Native Women Lose Nearly $1 Million Over a 40-year Career Due to Wage Gap, NWLC New Analysis Shows

(Washington, DC) Today is Native Women’s Equal Pay Day– which marks the 21 months full-time Native women workers need to work to make what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts typically made in the prior year alone.

This wage gap amounts to a loss of $24,443 a year for Native women, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.

Women who work full-time are paid 80 cents for every dollar made by men. But the wage gap disparities are significantly wider for Native women, who are paid only 58 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. During a 40-year career, a Native woman will lose $977,720 to the wage gap.

The following is a statement from Emily Martin, Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):

“When it comes to the gender wage gap, all women lose, but Native women, typically paid just 58 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, are especially hard hit. Native women typically must work almost 21 months to make as much as white, non-Hispanic men make in twelve, and they can’t educate themselves out of the wage gap. Indeed, Native women with the highest levels of education experience some of the largest wage gaps. We call on Congress to invest in policies that will raise Native women’s wages and enable their families and communities to thrive; a necessary first step is for the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, passed by the House earlier this year, in order to modernize and strengthen our pay discrimination laws.”

Key findings of the analysis include:

  • Over a 40-year career and based on today’s wage gap, Native women stand to lose more than $1 million compared to white, non-Hispanic men in 10 states: California ($1,488,360), Colorado ($1,085,720), Connecticut ($1,303,280), Delaware ($1,210,920), Illinois ($1,099,600), Louisiana ($1,051,480), New Jersey ($1,348,800), New Mexico ($1,067,800), Texas ($1,206,920), and Utah, ($1,045,200).
  • Delaware and California are the worst states for Native women’s wage equality. Native women are typically paid 46 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men in Delaware and 50 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men in California.
  • New Mexico and Texas have some of the largest Native populations and significant wage gaps for Native women. Native women living in Texas are typically paid just 52 cents and in New Mexico, 53 cents, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
  • Native women experience a wage gap at every education level. Native women with Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, and professional degrees face larger gaps than those with high school diplomas.
  • The wage gap exists for Native women of all ages and is widest for older women. These larger gaps mean that Native women fall behind when they need additional resources to invest in their families and save for a secure retirement.
  • Native women living in larger cities experience a greater wage gap than women in rural areas. Native women in large cities are typically paid 47 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men living in cities.
  • Native women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and underrepresented in high-wage jobs—and experience a wage gap in both.
  • Four of the ten most common occupations for Native women typically pay less than $10 per hour while they pay white, non-Hispanic men more for the same work. These occupations include building cleaners, maids and housekeepers, child care workers, waiters and waitresses, and cooks.

NWLC experts are available to discuss the wage gap analysis of Native women workers and its broader implications.


For immediate release: September 23, 2019
Contact: Olympia Feil ([email protected])