Labor Rights

Disparities Persist for Women of Color in States with the Smallest Wage Gaps

Newly released US Census data shows the wage gap for African American and Latina women is worse in some areas where the overall gender wage gap is small.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

The gender wage gap in Washington, DC is overall the smallest in the country – but, according to analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, it turns out the wage gap for African American women in the District is the second worst in the entire country. And California’s gender wage gape is the fifth smallest in the county, but its wage gap for Latina women is the absolute worst in the US. Maryland and North Carolina shows this discrepancy, too: the overall gender wage gap is in the top ten smallest, but in the top ten largest for Latinas.

To make the comparison even clearer, the largest gender wage gap is in Louisiana, where women make 34.1 percent less than men (comparing those who work full-time, all year) – but the wage gap for African American women is even worse than 34.1 percent in 36 states and DC. And Latina women don’t make even half of what white, non-Hispanic men make in 17 states and DC.

In an attempt to lessen the gender wage gap, activists have pushed for the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) which would require employers to provide the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission pay data by sex, race and national origin of employees. The PFA would also prohibit employers from retaliating against their employees for discussing wages with coworkers and strengthen remedies for pay discrimination. However, the Act was blocked twice this year by Senate Republicans and four times since 2012 by legislators who voted along party lines.

The gender wage gap costs women, on average, about $434,000 in salary over the course of their careers. Women are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of families with children under 18, but they still earn 78 cents on average for every dollar earned by men – and that figure hasn’t changed much in a decade.

Media Resources: National Women’s Law Center 10/23/14; US Census Bureau 10/23/14; AAUW 9/18/14; Feminist Newswire 9/16/2014