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Women and the Lifetime Wage Gap: How Many Woman Years Does it Take to Equal 40 Man Years?

Women who work full time, year round in the U.S. are typically paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, which translates into a loss of $10,470 in median earnings every year. What does that mean over a lifetime?

A 20-year old woman just starting full time, year round work today stands to lose $418,800 over a 40-year career compared to her male counterpart.  And when her male counterpart retires at age 60 after 40 years of work, she would have to work 10 more years – until age 70, which is past Social Security’s full retirement age – in order to close this lifetime wage gap.

The situation is even worse when we look at how some women of color fare compared to white, non-Hispanic men. Over a 40-year career, Black women typically lose $840,040, Native women typically lose $934,240, and Latinas typically lose more than $1 million compared to white, non-Hispanic men. In order to close these lifetime wage gaps, Black women would have to work 23 years longer than the white, non-Hispanic man retiring at age 60, Native women would have to work 29 years longer, and Latinas would have to work 34 years longer. In other words, Black, Native, and Latina women must work well into their 80s or 90s in order to catch up to what a white, non-Hispanic man made by age 60, delaying their retirement even beyond their life expectancy.

And depending on the state she lives in, some women of color must work past age 100 in order to catch up to white, non-Hispanic men. Women and their families cannot afford to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to the wage gap, and no woman should have to work until she dies in order to close it. It’s well past time to close the wage gap.