Resource

Equal Pay for African American Women

Fact Sheets 6 minutes

When we compare all women to all men, we find that women who work full time, year round in the United States are paid only 79 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. But the wage gap is even larger when we look specifically at African American women who work full time, year round—they are paid only 60 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This gap, which amounts to a loss of $21,937 a year, means that African American women have to work nearly 20 months—until almost the end of August—to make as much as white, non-Hispanic men did in the previous 12-month calendar year.

African American women experience a wage gap at every education level—and it is widest among those with the least education.

  • Among individuals working full time, year round who have only a high school degree, African American women typically make only 61 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make.
  • African American women with a bachelor’s degree or higher typically make $50,559—about what white, non-Hispanic men who have some college but lack a degree make ($50,571). African American women with a bachelor’s degree typically make $46,825—only $1,849 more than white, non-Hispanic men with only a high school degree make.

African American women’s wage gap is wider among older women.

  • Among full time, year round workers ages 15-24, African American women typically make 71 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make—but older women fare far worse.
  • Among workers 25-44, African American women make just 63 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make. And for those 45-64, they make just 60 cents. These larger gaps mean that African American women are falling behind at the very time they need additional resources to invest in their families and save for retirement.

African American women have to work longer to keep up.

  • Over the course of a 40-year career, if the current wage gap does not close, African American women will typically lose nearly $877,480 to the wage gap—this means African American women would have to work more than 66 years to earn what white, non-Hispanic men earned in 40 years.
  • In six states, African American women would lose more than $1 million over a 40-year career as compared to white, non-Hispanic men.

African American women’s wage gap is substantially wider in certain states.

  • In Louisiana, the worst state for African American women’s wage equality, African American women typically make less than half of what white, non-Hispanic men make.
  • African American women in Washington, DC have the second worst wage gap in the country at 44.4 cents, even though women overall in Washington, D.C. have the smallest wage gap at just 10.5 cents.

African American women’s wage gap has persisted over decades.

  • In 1967, the earliest year for which data are available, an African American woman working full time, year round typically made only 43 cents for every dollar paid to her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart.
  • By 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, that gap had narrowed by 17 cents, but African American women working full time, year round were still only paid 60
    cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

African American women experience a wage gap across occupations.

  • In a wide variety of occupations—those that are well-paid and poorly paid, those that are female-dominated and those that are non-traditional for women—African American women working full time, year round make less than white, non-Hispanic men.
    • African American women working as physicians and surgeons—a traditionally male, high-wage occupation—make 52 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
    • African American women working as customer service representatives—a mid-wage, female-dominated occupation—make 79 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
    • African American women working as construction laborers—a traditionally male, mid-wage occupation—make 85 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
    • African American women working as personal care aides—a heavily female, low-wage occupation—make 85 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
  • In addition to wage gaps within occupations, African American women are overrepresented in the most poorly paid jobs in the nation. African American women’s share of the low-wage workforce (10.7 percent) is much higher than their share of the overall workforce (6.1 percent). Even in these low-wage occupations that typically pay $10.50 per hour or less, African American women working full time, year round experience a wage gap, making only 74.5 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make.

Union membership is especially important for closing the wage gap for African American women.

  • Among full time workers, the wage gap between African American women and white men who are union workers is more than 20 percent smaller than the wage gap among non-union workers (27 cents for union workers, compared to 34 cents for non-union workers).
  • African American women are the most likely group of women to be union members and yet in 2015, just 12.8 percent of employed African American women were members of unions.