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Black Women’s Equal Pay Day shows how far from equality we are and how slow progress is

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July 31 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. That means that this is the day in 2017 when black women have finally caught up with what white men were paid in 2016. Thanks, wage gap! While we often hear the (accurate as far as it goes) statistic that women are paid 80 cents on the dollar compared with white men, the gap gets a lot worse when you break it out by race, and black women are paid just 63 cents on the white man’s dollar.

Here are a few more facts from the National Women’s Law Center. Education doesn’t make it go away:

  • Pursuing higher education does little close to the wage gap. Black women with a bachelor’s degree are typically paid $46,694—just under what white, non-Hispanic men with only a high school degree are paid ($46,729).
  • Black women have to earn a Master’s degree to make slightly more ($56,072) than white, non-Hispanic men with just an Associate’s degree ($54,620).

High wage jobs, low wage jobs … the gap persists.

  • Among workers in low wage jobs, Black women make just 60 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Black women who work full time, year round in these occupations are typically paid about $21,700 annually, compared to the $36,000 typically paid to white, non-Hispanic men in these occupations. This gap translates to a loss of $14,300 each year to the wage gap—more than enough to pay for an entire year’s worth of rent or more than a year and a half of childcare costs.
  • Among workers in high wage occupations—such as lawyers, engineers, and physicians or surgeons—Black women are paid 64 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men in the same occupations. Black women who work full time, year round in these occupations are typically paid about $70,000, compared to the $110,000 typically paid to white, non-Hispanic men in these same jobs. This amounts to a staggering annual loss of $40,000 each year, or $1.6 million dollars over a 40-year career.

Over 48 years, the entire time for which data is available, the situation has only improved by 20 cents, from black women making 43 cents for every dollar a white man made to making 63 cents in 2015, and “In Louisiana, the worst state for Black women’s wage equality, Black women typically are paid slightly less than half of what white, non-Hispanic men are paid.”

 This blog was originally published at DailyKos on July 31, 2017. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at DailyKos. 

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Fox News commentator ‘appalled’ by Patricia Arquette’s call for equal pay

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Laura ClawsonAccepting the Oscar for best supporting actress, Patricia Arquette gave a shout out to equal pay, saying:

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Social media lit up, mostly in approval, though some noted that her use of the term “citizen” excluded many immigrants. But that was not Fox News contributor Stacey Dash’s problem with Arquette’s statement:

“I was appalled. I could not believe it. I mean, first of all, Patricia Arquette needs to do her history. In 1963, Kennedy passed an equal pay law. It’s still in effect. I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights.”

Because “not quite equal rights” and “not any rights at all” are exactly the same thing. And a law calling for equal pay is all you need, even if in reality, women earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, and even if you work—as Patricia Arquette does—in an industry where recently leaked emails showed women being paid far less than their male counterparts.

This article originally appeared in dailykos.com on February 23, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006. Labor editor since 2011. Laura at Daily Kos


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