The Wage Gap Costs Black Women a Staggering $946,120 Over a 40-year Career, NWLC New Analysis Shows

(Washington, D.C.) Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day—which marks how far into the year Black women working full time need to work to earn what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts earned in 2018. This wage gap costs Black women $23,653 a year, according to new analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.

If we don’t take steps to close this gap, over the course of a 40-year career, a Black woman stands to lose a staggering $946,120 to the wage gap. Assuming she and her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart begin work at age 20, a Black woman would have to work until she is 86 years old to catch up to what a white, non-Hispanic man has been paid by age 60.

“There’s a significant racial wealth gap in America and Black women’s wage gap certainly plays a role in it,” said Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice. “For many Black women, the cost of the lifetime wage gap comes close to a million dollars—and in some states it’s more.  It’s time for the Senate to follow the lead of the House and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Women and their families literally can’t wait any longer.”

Key findings of the analysis include:

  • Black women working full time, year-round are paid only 61 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.  But Black women face even steeper wage gaps in some states.  In Louisiana, the worst state for Black women’s wage equality, Black women are typically paid 47 cents for every dollar.
  • Black women stand to lose more than $1 million over a 40-year career compared to white, non-Hispanic men based on today’s wage gap in eight states:  California ($1,155,480), Connecticut ($1,255,160), Louisiana ($1,196, 840), Massachusetts ($1,144,040), New Jersey ($1,352,280), Texas ($1,041,360), Utah ($1,077,240),  and Virginia ($1,005,280).
  • Despite having the second smallest wage gap in the nation for women overall compared to men overall, the wage gap between Black women and white, non-Hispanic men in Washington, D.C., is larger than the gap in 49 states:  Black women in D.C. typically make just 51 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make and will lose $1,899,080 over a 40-year career. This means they would need to work until age 98 to catch up to what a white, non-Hispanic man has been paid by age 60.
  • Black women experience a wage gap at every education level, and the gap is largest for the most educated Black women.
  • Among doctorate degree holders, Black women typically make 60 percent of what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts are paid—an annual loss of nearly $49,000, or more than $1.9 million over the course of a 40-year career.
  • Black women with professional degrees are typically paid 61 percent of what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts are paid (leading to a lifetime loss of more than $2 million).
  • Black women have the highest student loan debt of any racial or ethnic group.  For an undergraduate degree, the average Black woman carries nearly $30,400 in debt, compared to $19,500 for white men.  The wage gap lessens Black women’s ability to pay off educational debt, creating an additional barrier to saving money that could be used to buy a home, start a business, or use for emergencies.

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


For immediate release: August 12, 2019
Contact: LySaundra Campbell ([email protected])