Press Release

Motherhood Wage Gap Is 29 Percent Nationwide: Mothers Paid Less in Every State and at Every Education Level, NWLC Analysis Shows

Posted on May 22, 2017

(Washington, D.C.) Mothers typically are paid only 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, leaving a gap of 29 cents on the dollar—larger than the 20-cent gap between women and men overall, according to new National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) analysis of Census data. This gap translates to a $16,000 loss each year. The motherhood wage gap exists in every state: mothers do best in Delaware, where they are paid 83 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, and worst in Utah and Louisiana, where they are paid only 58 cents for every dollar paid to fathers—a staggering 42 percent wage gap.

The NWLC analysis of mothers working full time, year round features an interactive state-by-state map that shows how much less mothers overall are paid, as well as the specific wage gaps for mothers broken down by race and ethnicity in each state. NWLC released the analysis a day before Mothers’ Equal Pay Day on May 23—marking the date to which a mother typically has to work to make as much as a father made the previous calendar year.

“The price of motherhood shouldn’t be a smaller paycheck,” said Emily Martin, NWLC Vice President for Workplace Justice. “Inadequate workplace protections and outdated attitudes about working mothers trap millions of women and their families in poverty. The stark data reveal that many moms of color—who are often the sole breadwinner for their families and can least afford a hole in their paychecks—are paid even less. Mothers and families have shouldered the cost of low pay for too long. It’s time to close the gap.”

Key findings of the analysis include:

  • Compared to white, non-Hispanic fathers, mothers of color fare even worse than mothers overall: Black mothers are paid 51 cents and Latina mothers 46 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers.
  • Mothers are typically paid less than fathers at every education level.
  • Mothers must earn a bachelor’s degree or more before their typical earnings exceed that of fathers with just a high school degree.
  • More than 22.8 million mothers with children under 18 are in the workforce, making up nearly 1 in 6—or 15.5 percent of all workers.
  • More than 2 in 5 mothers (42.2 percent) are employed in 12 occupations—and in each of these occupations, mothers are paid between 50 cents and 86 cents for every dollar fathers are paid.

*Methods note: Figures are based on mothers’ and fathers’ median earnings for full-time, year-round workers. Mothers and fathers have at least one related child under 18 at home.

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 For immediate release: May 22, 2017

Contact:  Maria Patrick (mpatrick@nwlc.org) and Olympia Feil (ofeil@nwlc.org)

The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity.  The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.  For more information on the Center, visit:  www.nwlc.org.

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