Black women have to work around 18 months to earn as much as white men do in a year

Faces in the crowd.
Faces in the crowd.
Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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In the US, the gender pay gap is narrowing. But progress on equal pay is not itself equal. To earn the same amount as white men in 2016, black women will have had to keep working until around today, July 31, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

On average, black women are paid only 67 cents on the dollar relative to white non-Hispanic men, even after accounting for education, work experience, and location. They also earn less than white non-Hispanic women, as EPI analysts wrote in a recent blog post:

Despite the large gender disadvantage faced by all women, black women were near parity with white women in 1979. However in 2016, white women’s wages grew to 76 percent of white men’s, compared to 67 percent for black women relative to white men—a racial difference of 9 percentage points. The trend is going the wrong way—progress is slowing for black women.

Black women are hit particularly hard by a combination of class inequality—from being underrepresented in top-earning jobs—as well as gender and racial discrimination. This wage inequality persists despite the fact that black women work more hours than white women. EPI’s analysis found that black women, whether they are married with children, single mothers, or childless, work on average more hours per year than white and Hispanic women. Still, white women were the highest earners.

Education levels also don’t explain the gap. In fact, the gap between black women and white men increases with higher education. For example there is an almost $17-hourly wage gap for workers with advanced degrees, but there is only a $4.50-per-hour difference for workers with less than a high school education. Two-thirds of of black women in the workforce have some postsecondary education, according to EPI.

And while it takes an extra six or seven months at work for black women to reach their “equal pay day,” Hispanic women’s earnings lag even further behind. The average Hispanic woman earns just 59 cents to every dollar of the average white man’s wages.