For immediate release:  March 29, 2017
Contact Maria Patrick ([email protected]) or Olympia Feil ([email protected])

Women Have to Work 50 Years to Make What Men Make in 40 Years, New NWLC Analysis Shows

In 13 states, Latina women lose more than $1 million compared to white, non-Hispanic men over a 40-year career and would have to work past age 100 to make up the difference


(Washington, D.C.) The gender wage gap means that women typically have to work 50 years to make what men make in 40 years, according to new NWLC analysis released today. Based on the current gender wage gap, a 20-year old woman just starting full time work today stands to lose $418,800 over a 40-year career compared to her male counterpart. When he retires at age 60 after working 40 years, she would have to work 10 more years—until age 70, which is past Social Security’s full retirement age of 67—to close this lifetime wage gap.

The new analysis features an interactive map and state-by-state rankings that show the age to which women would have work to finally catch up to men’s 40-year career earnings. NWLC released the analysis, broken down by race and ethnicity, in advance of Equal Pay Day on April 4, 2017—the day that marks how far into the year full time women workers have to work to make what their male counterparts typically made in the previous year.

For Black women, the lifetime wage gap totals $840,040, and for Latina women, the losses rise to $1,043,800. As a result, Black and Latina women would have to work well into their 80s and 90s, respectively—past Social Security’s full retirement age, and even beyond their life expectancy—in order to catch up to what white, non-Hispanic men make by age 60.

“The gender wage gap leaves women in a deep, deep hole. Either they lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes compared to men, or they must work decades past retirement age to catch up,” said Emily Martin, NWLC General Counsel and Vice President for Workplace Justice. “In several instances, even working until the end of their life expectancy, women’s earnings will still come up short. Latina women in 13 states would lose more than $1 million compared to white, non-Hispanic men by the time they are 60—and would have to work past age 100 to close that enormous gap. No one should have to work until the day she dies to make up the losses from a wage gap that has barely budged in a decade. Women can’t afford to keep waiting for equal pay.”


Key findings from the state-by-state analysis include:

  • Assuming men and women years start working at age 20, women living in Wyoming have to work the longest—until age 82—to catch up to what men make by age 60. Women living in New York and Delaware have to work the shortest—until age 65—in order to catch up to what men make by age 60.
  • Latina, Native and Black women must work for decades more in order to be paid what their white, non-Hispanic male counterpart was paid by age 60:
    • Latina women in 47 states must work to age 85 or later.
    • Native women in 26 states must work to age 85 or later.
    • Black women in 22 states must work to age 85 or later.
  • In 13 states, Latinas will lose more than $1 million over a 40-year career or must work past age 100 in order to make as much as white, non-Hispanic men made by age 60: Alabama, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
  • Assuming a 40-year career for both men and women, women’s lifetime losses to the wage gap amount to more than half a million dollars in nine states: Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
    • Latinas’ lifetime losses amount to more than $1 million in 22 states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming.
    • Native women’s lifetime losses amount to more than $1 million in eight states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas.
    • Black women’s lifetime losses amount to more than $1 million in nine states: Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, and Utah.


NWLC experts are available to discuss the wage gap analysis and its broader implications.

Methodological note: The cost of the wage gap over a 40-year career, or the “lifetime wage gap” is based on the latest (2015) data on the difference between women’s and men’s median annual earnings for full time, year round workers, multiplied by 40 years. Figures are not adjusted for inflation. State figures are based on five-year annual average American Community Survey data (2011-2015). For the purposes of this analysis D.C. is considered a state.




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:


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