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The Tom Joyner Show
Money Mondays

August 6, 2018

Equal Pay Day for Black Women
Mellody Hobson on the Tom Joyner Morning Show - Money Mondays
Mellody discusses significant long-term effects of wage differences for women, and especially women of color.
Today you are here to talk about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. What exactly is that?

Well Tom, as you know there is a pay gap between men and women in this country. The average American woman makes about 80 cents on the dollar compared to the average American man. But when you take race into account, this wage gap widens considerably.

To illustrate this, the Equal Pay Today campaign has taken a novel approach to highlight this problem. They have marked dates on a calendar to signify how long it takes a woman to make the same amount of money a man makes for the year prior. Take the overall wage gap. If a man made a certain amount of money in 2017, a woman would have to work a little over three months extra to make that same amount.

As a result, Equal Pay Day for all women fell on April 10 of this year. However, tomorrow – August 7 – is Equal Pay Day for Black Women. This is because the average Black woman in America must work a little over 7 extra months to make what the average white male made in a year.

That is an amazing statistic. How do Black women compare to other women when it comes to earnings?

That is a great question. While Black women make less than white and Asian women, we are in the middle of the pack among other ethnic groups. According to the National Women’s Law Center, Black women who work full time make just 63 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts. Latinas make just 54 cents on the dollar. For Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women, the figure is 59 cents, and for Native women it is 57 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic male makes. While Asian women as a group are paid only 87 cents for every dollar, the wage gap is substantially larger for some subgroups of Asian women. White women make 79 cents on the dollar. These wage gaps translate into an annual loss of $21,698 for Black women, $26,403 for Latinas, $24,007 for Native women, and $7,310 for Asian women.

How does this gap play out over time?

It has huge ramifications for lifetime income and retirement. Based on today’s wage gap between all men and women, a woman would miss out on $403,440 over a 40-year career. For Black women, this number rises to nearly $870,000 over the same period. These lost earnings hamper our ability to save for retirement, and result in the average Social Security benefit being much lower for women — especially women of color - than it is for men.

What do the trendlines look like? Are we closing the gap?

While women of all races are making progress in closing the gap with men, the data show that Black women and men might be falling farther behind within their gender category. According to a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, "black men and women earn persistently lower wages compared with their white counterparts," a gap that "cannot be fully explained by differences in age, education, job type, or location." The data the study used showed that the wage gap between Black Americans and their white counterparts is growing. In 1979, the average black woman earned about 95 percent of the average white woman. In 2016, the average black woman earned about 82 percent of what the average white woman earned. During the same time period, wage gap between the average Black man in America and the average white man grew from 20 to 30 cents. If you take those numbers, an Equal Pay Day for Black men would fall somewhere in March.

We still have a long way to go when it comes to wage inequality. Thanks for joining us to highlight the importance of Equal Pay Day for Black Women.

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