Tech, Now + Beyond

The wage gap for black women is only getting worse

Last year, the gender wage gap increased. And for both black men and women, wages decreased.

You’ve heard the statistics: for every dollar a man in America earns, the average woman is paid $0.77. But that “average” obscures a huge racial divide. Black and Hispanic women earn $0.64 and $0.55 respectively.

A March report from the Institute for Women’s Research Policy shows that for weekly full time workers the wage gap widened from 2014 to 2015. Though both men and women had increased median pay, men earned higher than women. But not all men’s wages increased during that time period; the wages for black men decreased in 2015.

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which protects employees against wage discrimination based on gender, religion and race, to name a few parameters. The law removed the 180-day claim period in which employees could file discriminatory wage earnings against their employers. It also provided incentives to employers to end discriminatory compensation as well as hiding their discriminatory wage practices.

But according to this report, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Women earn less because they don’t have access to paid family leave or subsidized child care, are paid less in jobs done mainly by women, and face discriminatory practices with hiring, pay and recruitment. Measures to counteract this include better jobs for women, better family benefits and ensuring women have equal employment opportunities and wages.

Both male and female Hispanic workers are paid less than persons of other ethnicities, but women are paid less than Hispanic men. They made about 90 percent of Hispanic men’s median wage and 60 percent of a white man’s median wage. Hispanic women earned 0.4 percent more in 2015.

Black women earn more than Hispanic women when compared to white men’s median wage — about 67 percent in 2015. The year before, it was 68 percent. Last year, black women earned about 90 percent of the median wage among black men. But black men earned less, while white, Asian and Hispanic men’s wages all increased in the same year.

Overall, both Asian men and women earned more than other ethnicities including white persons due to their higher educational qualifications. Asian women earned less in 2015 when compared to Asian males’ median wage — 78 percent — but when compared to white men’s median wage, in 2015 Asian women earned about 95 percent. Asian women’s wages were the only women’s wages which increased in 2015.

In 2015, white women earned about 80 percent of white men’s wage, which is the closest gap for all of the groups studied. The reason, researchers said, is that white men and women comprise the largest ethnic group of the U.S. labor force. Still, white women’s wages fell 1 percent from 2014 to 2015.

At the current pace, it’s predicted that wage gap will close in 2059.