Despite their foundational role in building America and its economy, Black workers have always faced discrimination in the U.S. workforce. Today, it takes longer for Black workers to find jobs and when they do, they’re paid less than their peers.
This is especially so for Black women, who face not only race discrimination, but also sex discrimination, as the wage gap between Black women working full time, year round compared to white, non-Hispanic men makes clear: Black women
typically make just 62 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, and that disparity has not narrowed over the last quarter century. Indeed, from 1967 to 2018, the most recent year for which data are available, the wage gap for Black
women narrowed by just 19 cents.
As workers, Black women are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, and as a result are disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s health and economic impacts. The pandemic has exposed how the work performed primarily by women, and particularly Black women, has long been and continues to be undervalued, even as the rest of the country is depending on it as never before. Women are the majority of workers risking their lives to provide health care, child care, and other
essential services, and Black women are overrepresented in a variety of these occupations. They are also overrepresented in many of the occupations feeling the brunt of COVID-related job loss. Lost earnings due to the gender wage gap are exacerbating the effects of COVID-19 for Black women — and for the families who depend on their income. These lost earnings not only leave Black women without a financial cushion to weather the current crisis, they also make it harder for Black women to build wealth, contributing to the racial wealth gap and barriers to Black families’ economic prosperity.
Losses due to gender and racial wage gaps are devastating for Black women and their families, many of whom were struggling to make ends meet even before the current crisis. The pandemic has magnified these inequities and deepened
these harms. Black women have been shortchanged and their work has been undervalued for far too long; neither they nor their families can afford to wait for change during an unprecedented public health and economic crisis that has no end in sight.
National Women's Law Center