Labor Rights

Equal Pay Day for Asian American and Pacific Islander Women

Today is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Equal Pay Day, the day into 2018 that AAPI women would need to work to in order to earn the same amount that white men earned in 2017 alone. There are currently 10 million AAPI women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people living in the United States.

On average AAPI women earn 87 cents for every dollar a white man earns and 77 cents to every dollar an Asian man earns. In addition, there is a massive wage gap within AAPI ethnic groups. For example, while Korean women earn an average of 91 cents to a white man’s dollar, Burmese women earn only 51 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. And while on average Indian, Taiwanese, Sri Lankan, Chinese and Japanese women earn more than a typical white man, they all earn at least 14 percent less than men of the same ethnicity.

While AAPI women are stereotyped as dominating fields in science and technology, one-in-five work in a service industry and nearly a third earn less than $15 an hour. 18 percent of AAPI transgender and gender nonconforming people report a household income of less than $10,000 a year.

This wage gap persists at every education level and is widest among those with the least amount of education. AAPI women without a high school diploma earn 69 percent of what is earned by a white man without a high school diploma. And Asian women must earn a bachelor’s degree or more in order to exceed the wages earned by a white man with only an associate’s degree.

Advocates for women are pushing for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that has been introduced in Congress 11 times. The bill aims to strengthen discriminated workers’ position in court, end retaliation against workers who speak out, and improve federal enforcement capabilities concerning anti-discrimination laws.

In April, President Trump revoked an Obama-era executive order that required companies with federal contracts to comply with labor laws and sought to protect women in the workplace by requiring pay transparency and proper adjudication of sexual assault and discrimination claims. The wage transparency clause required companies with federal contracts to declare to their employee’s comparable information related to specific deductions, rate of pay and total hours worked, empowering women to make sure they are paid the same as their male coworkers.

The gender pay gap persists across all racial groups. For every dollar earned by a white man, white non-Hispanic women earn 76 cents, black women earn 62 cents, American Indian women earn 58 cents, and Hispanic/Latina women earn 54 cents.

Media Resources: National Women’s Law Center 2/18; The Hill 6/7/17

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