Resource

Equal Pay for Native Women

When comparing all men and women who work full time, year round in the United States, women are paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. This well-documented wage gap is even larger for Native women who work full time, year round as compared to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts. Native women are paid only 57 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This gap in pay, which amounts to a loss of about $24,007 a year, means that Native women have to work more than 21 months –until the end of September –to make as much as white, non-Hispanic white men in the previous calendar year.

Native women working full time, year round are typically paid only 57 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

Some subgroups of Native women experience substantially wider wage gaps.

  • Certain Native women experience a larger wage gap than is reflected in the number for Native women overall.
    • Pueblo and Blackfoot women experience the highest wage gaps and make less than half – 45 percent and 49 percent respectively – of what white, non-Hispanic men make. Navajo and Lumbee women make a little over half of white, non-Hispanic men make.
    • Creek, Cherokee, Apache, Iroquois, Chippewa, Choctaw, and Sioux women all make less than 65 percent of what white, non-Hispanic men make.
Native Women’s Wage Equality by Tribe
Tribe Native women’s earnings Native women’s earnings/White, non-Hispanic men’s earnings Native women’s earnings/ Native men’s earnings (within tribes)
Eskimo $36,000 65% 90%
Creek $35,000 64% 92%
Cherokee $34,000 62% 81%
Apache $32,000 58% 91%
 Iroquois $32,000 58% 82%
Chippewa $31,800 58% 80%
 Choctaw $31,400 57% 75%
Sioux $30,000 55% 91%
Lumbee $29,000 53% 76%
Navajo $28,300 51% 81%
Blackfoot $27,000 49% 84%
Pueblo $25,000 45% 78%
NWLC calculations based on 2015 American Community Survey 1-year estimates using IPUMS-USA available at https://usa.ipums.org/usa/ (IPUMS). Figures are based on women’s and men’s median earnings for full time, year round workers. The typical white, non-Hispanic man earned $55,000 in 2011-15. Figures are not adjusted for inflation. Earnings are in 2015 dollars. Ranks based on unrounded data.

 

Native women experience a wage gap at every education level – and it widens as they pursue more education.

  • Native women without a high school diploma make 69 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men without a high school diploma.
  • Native women working full time, year round who have a high school diploma are typically paid only 63 cents for every dollar typically paid to white, non-Hispanic men with the same diploma.
  • Pursuing higher education only widens the wage gap. Native women with Bachelor’s degrees are typically paid $41,400 – just two hundred dollars less than what white, non-Hispanic men with only a high school diploma are paid ($41,600).
  • Native women have to earn a Master’s degree before they are paid what white, non-Hispanic men with just an Associate’s degree are paid ($52,000).
  • The wage gap is widest for Native women with a professional or doctoral degree, who are paid just 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men with the same level of education.

Native Women’s Wage Equality by Education

Educational Attainment Native Women’s Earnings White, non-Hispanic Men’s Earnings What Native Women Are Paid for Every Dollar Paid to White, non-Hispanic Men Wage Gap
No high school degree $24,000 $35,000  69¢  31¢
High school degree $26,000 $41,600  63¢  38¢
Some college, no degree $30,000 $48,600  62¢  38¢
Associate’s degree $32,000 $52,000  62¢  38¢
Bachelor’s degree $41,400 $72,000  58¢  43¢
Master’s degree $52,000 $90,000  58¢  42¢
Professional or Doctoral Degree $66,000 $120,000  55¢  45¢

NWLC calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey 1-year estimates using IPUMS. “What Native Women Are Paid for Every Dollar Paid to White, non-Hispanic Men” is the ratio of Native women’s and white, non-Hispanic men’s median earnings for full time, year round workers. Earnings are in 2015 dollars. The “wage gap” is the additional money a woman would have to make for every dollar made by a man in order to have equal annual earnings

Older Native women experience a substantially wider  wage gap.

  • Among young people ages 15–24, working full time, year round, Native women typically make 76 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make. But the older Native women get, the worse they fare. Among people working full time, year round in their prime working years—ages 25–44—Native women are paid just 64 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men are paid.
  • Among older workers, ages 45–64, Native women are paid just 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. These larger gaps mean that Native women are falling behind at the very time they need additional resources to invest in their families and save for a secure retirement.

Native women living in cities experience a significantly larger wage gap than rural Native women.

  • Native women living in rural areas are paid 70 cents for ever dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men living in rural areas.
  • By contrast, Native women who live in cities suffer a much larger wage gap and are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men living in cities.

Native Women’s Equal Pay by Metropolitan Status

 

 

Native Women’s Earnings White, non-Hispanic Men’s Earnings What Native Women Are Paid for Every Dollar Paid to White, non-Hispanic Men Wage Gap
Rural $30,035 $43,209  .70¢  .30¢
City $33,724 $61,052  .55¢  .45¢
Suburban Areas $35,105 $61,050  .58¢  .42¢

 

 Native women in Iowa face the largest wage gap, and California isn’t much better.

  • While Native women nationally are paid just 57 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, they can face even steeper wage gaps depending where they live. In Iowa, the worst state for Native women’s wage equality, Native women typically are paid half of what white, non-Hispanic men are paid.
  • California, New Mexico, and Texas –states with some of the largest Native populations – have some of the worst wage gaps. California has the second worst wage gap in the country: Native women are paid just 51 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
Ten Worst States for Native Women’s Wage Equality
Rank State Native Women’s Earnings White, non-Hispanic Men’s Earnings What Native Women Are Paid for Every Dollar Paid to White, non-Hispanic Men Wage Gap
10 Wyoming $31,094 $55,840 56¢ 44¢
9 Nebraska $26,250 $47,988 55¢ 45¢
8 New Jersey $40,211 $73,546 55¢ 45¢
7 Utah $28,903 $53,846 54¢ 46¢
6 Mississippi $25,008 $46,636 54¢ 46¢
5 Texas $31,469 $60,705 52¢ 48¢
4 Louisiana $28,703 $55,386 52¢ 48¢
3 New Mexico $27,886 $54,021 52¢ 48¢
2 California $36,217 $70,805 51¢ 49¢
1 Iowa $23,750 $47,955 50¢ 50¢
“What Native women are paid for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men” is the ratio of women’s and men’s median earnings for full time, year round workers. Earnings are in 2015 dollars. The “wage gap” is the additional money a woman would have to make for every dollar made by a man in order to have equal annual earnings. Ranks based on unrounded data. State wage gaps calculated by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) are based on 2011-2015 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/).

 

The wage gap costs Native women hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a career.

  • Over the course of a 40-year career, the typical Native woman loses a staggering $960,280 to the wage gap. Assuming she and her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart begin work at age 20, this huge wage gap means a Native woman would typically have to work until she is nearly 90 years old to catch up to what a white, non-Hispanic man has been paid by age 60.
  • In eight states, Native women would lose more than $1 million over a 40-year career as compared to white, non-Hispanic men. Native women would have to work decades past retirement age in order to make up these lifetime losses.
Ten Worst States for Native Women’s Lifetime Losses Due to Wage Gap
Rank State Native Women’s Earnings White, non-Hispanic Men’s Earnings Lifetime Losses Due to Wage Gap Age at Which a Native Woman’s Career Earnings Catch Up to White, non-Hispanic Men’s Career Earnings at Age 60
10 Massachusetts $41,550 $66,379 $993,160 84
9 Utah $28,903 $53,846 $997,720 95
8 New York $36,629 $61,751 $1,004,880 87
7 Illinois $34,877 $60,296 $1,016,760 89
6 New Mexico $27,886 $54,021 $1,045,400 97
5 Louisiana $28,703 $55,386 $1,067,320 97
4 Texas $31,469 $60,705 $1,169,440 97
3 Connecticut $39,801 $69,740 $1,197,560 90
2 New Jersey $40,211 $73,546 $1,333,400 93
1 California $36,217 $70,805 $1,383,520 98
State wage gaps calculated by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) are based on 2011-2015 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/). National wage gap calculated by NWLC is based on 2015 Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement. Earnings are in 2015 dollars. Figures are for full-time, full-year work. ”Lifetime Losses Due to Wage Gap” is what a Native woman would lose, based on today’s wage gap, over a 40-year career. Figures are not adjusted for inflation. Ranks based on unrounded data. “Age at which a Native woman’s career earnings catch up to white, non-Hispanic men’s career earnings at age 60” assumes all workers begin work at age 20. Assuming white, non-Hispanic men have a 40-year career, this is the age at which Native women are able to retire with the same lifetime earnings as their male counterparts.

 

 Native women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs, and underrepresented in high-wage jobs.

  • Native women are overrepresented in the low-wage workforce – jobs that typically pay less than $11 per hour, or about $22,880 annually. They are just 0.3 percent of the overall workforce, but 0.5 percent of the low-wage workforce.
  • Native women are even more overrepresented in the lowest-wage workforce – jobs that pay less than $10 per hour, or about $20,800 annually. They make up 0.6 percent of the lowest-wage workforce—twice their share of the overall workforce.
  • Native women’s share of the high-wage workforce—jobs that pay more than $48 per hour, or about $100,000 annually, is about one third of their share of the overall workforce. They make up only 0.1 percent of workers in these jobs, but 0.3 percent of the overall workforce.

Whether they work in low-wage or high-wage occupations, Native women are typically paid less than white, non-Hispanic men in the same occupations.

  • Among workers in low-wage jobs, Native women make just 59 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Native women who work full time, year round in these occupations are typically paid about $21,000 annually, compared to the $35,600 typically paid to white, non-Hispanic men in the same occupations. This gap translates to a loss of about $14,600 each year to the wage gap—more than enough to pay for an entire year’s worth of rent or more than a year and a half of childcare costs.
  • Among workers in high-wage occupations—such as lawyers, engineers, and physicians or surgeons—Native women are paid 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men in the same occupations. Native women who work full time, year round in these occupations are typically paid about $61,100, compared to the $109,100 typically paid to white, non-Hispanic men in these same jobs. This amounts to a staggering annual loss of about $48,000 each year, or over $1.9 million dollars over a 40-year career.

Native women experience a wage gap across occupations, even in those occupations where they are overrepresented.  

  • More than two in five Native women (41.5 percent) are employed in one of ten occupations. In every one of those occupations, Native women are typically paid less than white, non-Hispanic men.
  • Among the ten most common occupations for Native women, four of those occupations – cashiers and retail salespeople, janitors, building cleaners, maids and housekeepers, cooks, and childcare workers – typically pay Native women a very low wage – less than $10 per hour – while they typically pay white, non-Hispanic men much more.
  • Five of these common occupations typically pay Native women less than $12 per hour while just one – cooks – typically pays white, non-Hispanic men less than $12.
  • Even in better paying jobs, such as teachers or registered nurses, Native women are paid less than their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

Common Occupations for Native Women

  Occupation Percent of Native Women Employed in Occupation Percent of Workers in Occupation Who Are Native Women Median Hourly Wage for Native Women in Occupation Median Hourly Wage for White, non-Hispanic Men in Occupation What a Native Woman Makes for Every Dollar a White, non-Hispanic Man Makes
1 Secretaries, administrative assistants, office clerks, receptionists, and information clerks 7.9% 0.6% $14.68 $18.59  79¢
2 Cashiers and retail salespeople 7.2% 0.5% $9.93 $18.29  54¢
3 Nursing, psychiatric, home health, and personal care aides 6.2% 0.9% $11.55 $13.00  89¢
4 Janitors, building cleaners, maids, and housekeepers 5.2% 0.6% $9.63 $15.59  62¢
5 Pre-K, K-12, and special education teachers 4.5% 0.4% $19.25 $25.81  75¢
6 Registered nurses 2.4% 0.4% $27.87 $31.80  88¢
7 Counselors and social workers 2.1% 0.7% $18.77 $22.01  85¢
8 Cooks 2.0% 0.4% $8.93 $9.93  90¢
9 Customer service representatives 2.0% 0.4% $13.68 $19.23  71¢
10 Childcare workers  1.9% 0.7% $9.88 $12.02  82¢
Source: NWLC calculations based on 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-year averages using IPUMS. Figures are in 2015 dollars. Median hourly wages are for full time, year round workers. Hourly wages  are derived by dividing median annual earnings by 2,080 hours, which assumes a 40-hour work week for 52 weeks.