You may remember hearing about Equal Pay Day back in March, but that's not the whole picture. Sept. 21, 2022 marks Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, and there are a lot of wage-gap statistics you need to know on this day — which highlights the amount of time Black women need to work to earn the same wages as their white male counterparts — include the troubling fact that Black women workers are paid only 58 cents on the dollar relative to white non-Hispanic men, even after controlling for education, years of experience, and location, according to the American Association of University Women. And Black women must work months longer than white women to earn the same wage. This is not equality.
"Pay inequity directly touches the lives of Black women in at least three distinct ways," Valerie Wilson, Janelle Jones, Kayla Blado, and Elise Gould reported on the Economic Policy Institute blog. "Since few Black women are among the top five percent of earners in this country, they have experienced the relatively slow wage growth that characterizes growing class inequality along with the vast majority of other Americans. But in addition to this class inequality, they also experience lower pay due to gender and race bias."
Sophia A. Nelson reported for the Huffington Post that white, male dominance in most high-powered career fields feeds into the #BlackWomenAtWork narrative that went viral in March 2017 when Bill O'Reilly dismissed Congresswoman Maxine Waters' perspective on President Trump during an appearance on Fox & Friends, stating he "didn't hear a word" she said because of what he referred to as her "James Brown Wig."
"It shows that old stereotypes and notions about women in general and Black women specifically still hurt us in the workplace," Nelson wrote. "Men still make the rules, and wield decision making power. Until that changes, progress for white women will be slower, and for women of color it will be painfully slow at best."
Additionally, the EPI reported that "regardless of their connection to the labor market, their level of educational attainment, or their occupation, they are paid less than their white male counterparts.”
And, on that note, here are the wage-gap statistics you need to know on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, because the playing field is far from even.
Black Women Work More Hours Than White Women
The EPI reported in 2019 that even though white women have increased their hours the most between 1979 and 2016, Black women were already working more in prior years.
“It is important to note that one reason for the smaller increase in average annual hours among Black women is that they were already working more hours per year relative to white and Hispanic women. But as we will later show, Black women also lose more hours when the economy slows down.”
The EPI reported that an increase in the numbers of hours worked in response to slow wage growth has largely been among women, and is even higher for Black women.
"Among lower paid workers, the growth in annual hours is larger for Black women than for white women and men. This trend is particularly striking for the lowest wage workers. In the bottom fifth, annual hours for Black women grew 30.1 percent (from 1,162 hours per year to 1,511 hours) between 1979 and 2015 compared to a 27.6 percent increase (from 1,086 hours per year to 1,386) for white women, and a 3.2 percent increase (from 1,553 hours per year to 1,602) for white men."
Black Women Earn Less Money In All Occupations
One myth about Black women at work, and women in general, is that they choose lower-paying careers. In fact, according to the EPI, Black women are often subjected to occupational segregation, and are pushed into jobs mostly populated by other Black women.
Additionally, the EPI reported that Black women earn less in every type of job. "While white male physicians and surgeons earn, on average, $18 per hour more than Black women doing the same job, the gap for retail salespersons is also shocking, at more than $9 an hour."
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, in a study done in June 2020, “[National Women’s Law Center] calculations, based on the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey for 2016, revealed that when comparing all men and women who work full time, year-round in the U.S., women were paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. But the wage gap was even larger when looking specifically at Black women who work full time, year-round — they were paid only 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.”
Black Women Are Paid Less Than White Men At Every Level Of Education
There is another myth that is often perpetuated that women could breakthrough the glass ceiling if they had more education. The EPI reported that two-thirds of Black women in the workforce have some postsecondary education, 29.4 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, Black women are still paid less than white men at every level of education.
"As Black women increase their educational attainment, their pay gap with white men continues to grow," the EPI noted. "The largest gap, of nearly $17 an hour, occurs for workers with more than a college degree. But even Black women with an advanced degree earn less, slightly more than $7 an hour less, than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree."
And Black women are now the most educated group of people in America, Essence reported. So, clearly, it's not lack of education that is driving the inequality. It's racism. It's sexism.
Famous Black Women Are Affected By Pay Inequality, Too
Back in 2016, on Black Women's Equal Pay Day, Fusion put some anecdotal information together, from a non-scientific roundup, that clearly shows how much more white men are valued in society than Black women. If Oprah Winfrey were a man, she'd be a billion dollars richer, Collier Meyerson wrote for Fusion. Unfortunately, in this modern day, not much has changed (other than Beyoncé’s net worth, which is now at least $450 million).
However, back in 2016, if Beyoncé were a man, her net worth would have increased from $265 million to $420.6 million. "That’s more than Mick Jagger, who has been doing this for decades longer than Bey, and is worth a mere $336 million," Meyerson wrote.
If you want more information, this tweet from equity advocate Minda Harts puts Black Women's Equal Pay Day into perspective: The average white American man could work 264 fewer days and still be paid the same as a Black woman.
And that fact is nothing short of disgraceful.
Additional reporting by Siena Gagliano.
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