Newswire : Black women’s ‘equal pay day’ reminds us how persistent the wage gap is

Black women receive 67 cents to a white man’s dollar.
By: Casey Quinlan, Policy reporter at ThinkProgress.

Monday, July 31 was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks when black women are paid the same wages as their white male peers were paid last year. Black women are paid only 67 cents on the dollar relative to non-Hispanic white men, according to analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.
Black women could lose $840,040 over a 40-year career compared to non-Hispanic white men, according to the National Women’s Law Center, and in some states, that wage gap could lead to a loss over $1 million.
According to EPI, the wage gap for black women has only grown worse and black women are working more hours. Looking at the lowest wage workers, the annual hours black women work grew 30.5 percent between 1979 and 2015 compared to a 3.2 percent increase for white men.
Several black female celebrities and politicians brought attention to the pay gap on Monday, including Serena Williams, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY). “Black women are the cornerstone of our communities,” Williams tweeted.
The wage gap persists at all levels of education and in all occupations. Black women with advanced degrees still make $7 an hour less than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree and white male physicians and surgeons earn $18 per hour more than black female physicians and surgeons.
There are also significant state differences in the wage gap. Maine, Mississippi, Alabama, Nebraska, South Carolina, District of Columbia, Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Missouri all had earnings ratios between white men and black women ranging from 59.7 percent to 55.2 percent. But Louisiana paid black women the worst in comparison to white men, at 46 percent. Black women’s median annual earnings tended to be lowest in southern states.
A 2016 Institute for Women’s Policy Research report shows why racial and ethnic differences in the pay gap tell us much more than simply looking at the pay gap by gender. The report found that the median weekly earnings for black women were $641 across occupations compared to $815 for white women and $1,025 for white men. Black men and Hispanic men made less than white women, at $718 and $633 respectively. Asian men and women had the highest median weekly earnings.
It would take a very long time for black women to reach pay equity with white men, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Black women would have to wait until 2124 for equal pay if wages continue to change at this slow pace. But policy experts do have suggestions for how to mitigate the wage gap.
Black women are subject to racial and gender biases in higher education, in the labor force, and in housing. Studies have found racial bias in how police use force on black men and women, and too often, police fail to help black women who are victims of crime. In a 96-page report released this year, “The Status of Black Women in the U.S.,” the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) recommended several approaches to improving the financial health and well being of black women.
The recommendations included: pursuing criminal justice reform, expanding Medicaid, providing more support to and recruitment of black female political candidates, and raising the minimum wage. The EPI analysis of the wage gap recommends raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024.

“#DayWithoutAWoman”: for domestic and low-wage workers, the stakes are higher than ever

By: Ai-Jen Poo, Glamour Magazine


On March 8 women from every part of the country and the economy will rise together to participate in #DayWithoutAWoman, also known as the Women’s Strike. A follow-up to the historic Women’s March on January 21, #DayWithoutAWoman will fall on International Women’s Day, which honors the social, political, and economic contributions of women globally.

I sometimes ask domestic workers to imagine what would happen if every nanny, house cleaner, and home care worker in the country decided to go on strike for one day. I ask them to reflect on all the children, seniors, and families who would be touched, and then to think about how those families’ workplaces would be affected—the business people, lawyers, and doctors, all the people who couldn’t work because no one was there to support their needs. The response to this question is often quiet concern for the people they work for, followed by animated banter as they imagine chaos in all the households trying to manage without them. Though society doesn’t value care and cleaning in the home as “real” work, the workers themselves know that their daily work is important, even fundamental.
Until now, I haven’t posed the question of “a day without domestic workers” in preparation for an actual strike. I’ve asked because it’s rare that we as women, particularly women whose wages are never quite enough to pay the bills, ever think about our collective power in the economy, much less what we could achieve if we directed that power collectively. But in this new political era, it’s time that women do more than simply recognize our power—we must organize it.
On March 8 women from every part of the country and the economy will rise together to participate in #DayWithoutAWoman, also known as the Women’s Strike. A follow-up to the historic Women’s March on January 21, #DayWithoutAWoman will fall on International Women’s Day, which honors the social, political, and economic contributions of women globally. Originally named International Working Women’s Day back in 1909, March 8 highlights how women’s work—paid and unpaid—drives the economy worldwide. There is a long, yet little-known, history of global women’s activism on this day. For example, on March 8, 1975, the Icelandic women’s strike set the stage for the election of the first woman president in the world, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir.
At its heart, a strike is an action that workers take to disrupt “business as usual.” Strikes both shine a light on injustice and demonstrate—to the strikers and to everyone else—the collective power to change the status quo. If ever there were a time for women to throw a wrench in things, it’s now. We are nearly half of the entire workforce. And we still provide more than 70 percent of the unpaid family care in the United States. We are also a majority of the consumer base (over 70 percent) in this country. It’s our work and our dollars that create wealth for the winners in this economy—from Uber to Walmart.
As much as some of us may like our jobs, we still face pay inequity, lack of respect, discrimination, and harassment, and lack of access to opportunity for advancement and security. At a time when we should be making progress at light speed on all of these issues, we face powerful opposition, from the government to society at large.
For women in low-wage jobs like domestic work, the stakes are higher than ever. Women make up two-thirds of the nearly 20 million workers in low-wage jobs—defined as jobs that typically pay $10.10 per hour or less, according to a report from the National Women’s Law Center. Women of color are disproportionately concentrated in low-wage jobs; nearly half of all women in the low-wage workforce are women of color. Home care jobs, for example, are the fastest growing occupation in the economy today, and are overwhelmingly dominated by women, disproportionately women of color and immigrants. Their median annual income? $13,000 per year.
It’s time for #DayWithoutAWoman. Women from all walks of life will be participating—and there are many ways to participate. Organizers are calling on us to choose among three options: Don’t work, don’t buy things, and wear red. Domestic workers will be participating by wearing red to work. As is the case with many low-wage workers who lack job security, most domestic workers cannot afford to take a day off, or they could risk losing their jobs if they do.
Those who can take the day off will join restaurant workers, retail workers, and others for the Women Workers Rising solidarity rally at the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. They will call for fairness in our economy, beginning with the most vulnerable (and increasingly targeted) among us, including poor women, transgender women, women with disabilities, and Black, Muslim and immigrant women. They will be joined by women in more than 40 countries worldwide.
Each one of these actions helps tell the story of the unrealized power we as women hold to shape our our society. When we don’t work, our absence has a ripple effect, because our work is critical to every sector of the economy and should never be taken for granted. When we don’t shop, businesses suffer. Let Wednesday be the day that we find each other (look for the red!) and commit to acting in solidarity. We can leverage our untapped power to take back our democracy and make our economy work for women—and our loved ones—once and for all.
Ai-jen Poo is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and codirector of the Caring Across Generations campaign.