Today, July 31, is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day – a day that marks how long Black women have to work in 2017 to catch up to what White, non-Hispanic men were paid, on average, in 2016.
Black women in our country experience an appalling wage gap. It took almost 19 months, going into July of 2017, for Black women’s earnings to catch up to those of white, non-Hispanic men in 2016. That is a wage gap of 63 cents on the dollar for the average Black woman working full-time, year-round – an average loss of more than $21,000 per year compared to what is paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Black mothers are penalized even further, earning just 51 cents on the dollar. This is outrageous.
The wage gap compounds other challenges Black women face every day in the United States, including high rates of maternal mortality and discrimination in the workforce, health care and the criminal justice system. This inequality hurts women, children, families and our economy. More than four million family households are headed by Black women. It’s imperative that we work to close the wage gap.
Fair pay will provide a ladder to greater economic security and opportunities to develop financial security to address the growing costs of housing, child care, college tuition and other expenses. In fact, closing the wage gap would mean that the average full-time, year-round Black woman worker would have enough money for 2.5 more years of child care, 155 more weeks of groceries, or nearly 22 months of rent.
We call on Congress to support legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act and to advance policies that are proven to deter wage inequality, boost families’ financial security and strengthen our economy – like earned sick days, affordable child care, and closing the school-to-prison pipeline. We can – and we must – do better.