Progress on Equal Pay Has Been Much Too Slow
It’s again confirmed: Women are not making equal pay for equal work despite now comprising nearly half of the paid labor force. This is ridiculous. It hurts women, families and our economy. According to newly released U.S. Census Bureau data, the average wage gap for a woman working full-time year-round is virtually unchanged from last year at just 80 cents for every dollar paid to a man, with women of color and moms experiencing even harsher wage hits. It is astonishing that in 2017, more than 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was enacted, the average woman must work a full 15 months to earn what men earn in just 12 months.
Although it’s an appalling statistic, 80 cents on the dollar doesn’t tell the full story. African American women are paid just 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men; moms just 71 cents; Native American women just 58 cents; Latinas just 54 cents; and Asian-American women on average saw a small increase from last year, but still earn just 87 cents, with some Asian-American subgroups paid much less. At a time when moms are often the primary or only breadwinners for their families, this wage discrimination is devastating for our nation’s families, businesses and our economy.
In fact, Native Women’s Equal Pay Day will be on September 25th, marking the day that Native women’s earnings finally catch up to what white, non-Hispanic men were paid in 2016. And Hispanic women face the largest pay gap of all – Latina Equal Pay Day will not take place until November 2nd.
The status quo is simply unacceptable. The wage gap should be shrinking, not stagnating. Progress on equal pay has been much too slow and fairness is still painfully out of reach. It’s time for our elected leaders to take action.
Yet rather than put forth policies that would help close the wage gap, just last month the Trump administration instead chose to halt an initiative designed to advance fair pay for women and workers of color. The pay data the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was about to begin collecting was designed to help uncover discrimination by requiring employers to collect and report wages by job category, sex, race and ethnicity. Ending this data collection is an assault on fair pay and will undercut efforts to close the wage gap and advance women and minorities in the workplace.
These new statistics underscore just how much our country needs 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.
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