As the 113th Congress begins, a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released today shows that an important constituency — African American women — are suffering from a pervasive gender-based wage gap in the very states where the majority of them work. In the 20 states with the largest number of African American women who work full time, year round, the wage gap ranges from 55 and 87 cents for every dollar paid to men in those states.
The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The state-specific findings for all 20 states can be found at www.NationalPartnership.org/AAGap. (The National Partnership conducted a matching analysis for Latinas in 20 states. It can be found here: www.NationalPartnership.org/LatinaGap.)
“Women of color are hard hit by a kind of perfect — and perfectly devastating — storm caused by discrimination, a struggling economy and the country’s failure to adopt family friendly workplace policies,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “These new data show that the wage gap is costing women of color thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could be spent on food, rent, health care and on meeting other fundamental needs for their families. It’s an unacceptable situation that should be a resounding wake-up call for lawmakers who have the power to do something about it.”
According to the new analysis:
- Among the 20 states with the largest populations of African American women working full time, year round, the wage gap is most severe in Louisiana and Mississippi, where women are paid just 55 cents and 61 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to men in their states.
- California’s gap is smallest for African American women among the states analyzed, but African American women still lose $6,342 each year compared to men in the state.
- African American women in Florida, Illinois and Missouri are paid just 73 cents for every dollar paid to their states’ men.
- In New York, which has the highest population of employed African American women in the country, African American women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men in the state.
- And African American women in Texas are paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to Texas men.
- Wage gap information for each of the 20 states with the large numbers of employed African American women can be found at www.NationalPartnership.org/AAGap.
Nationally, African American women are paid just 70 cents for every dollar paid to all men. That amounts to a loss of $14,701 each year. In general, women of color fare worse than women overall, who are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to all men — or $11,084 less per year.
According to the new analysis, eliminating the national wage gap would mean that African American women and their families would have enough money for more than two years’ worth of food, 4,549 gallons of gas, more than 16 months of rent, almost 10 months’ worth of mortgage and utilities payments, or more than three years of family health insurance premiums. The loss of these basic necessities can be especially punishing during tough economic times, and it adds up over a lifetime.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and establish stronger workplace protections for women. The U.S. House of Representatives passed it in 2009, and it came two votes short of moving forward in the Senate in 2010. Its introduction in the 113th Congress is expected early this year.
“Make no mistake about it, lawmakers have the power to help close this gap and promote economic security for women and families in their districts,” Ness continued. “Lawmakers who are serious about rebuilding our economy and valuing families will work to address discrimination and the punishing wag gap that results. Hardworking women deserve to be paid fairly no matter where they live or their race. By overwhelming majorities, Americans know this and support federal action. It’s time for Congress to act.”
The National Partnership’s findings for the 20 states with the largest numbers of employed African American women and Latinas can be found at www.NationalPartnership.org/AAGap and www.NationalPartnership.org/LatinaGap. More information on the wage gap can be found at www.NationalPartnership.org/FairPay.