On Equal Pay Day, advocates highlight income gap for black women

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Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

(CBM) – On Equal Pay Day last week, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom addressed the gender and racial pay gap in the United States and the state, while the federal government has announced similar plans.

“In [California]we have some of the strictest wage laws in the country, but women still only earn $0.86 per dollar and that number drops for women of color,” Newsom said.

Equal Pay Day was March 15.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) estimates that women in the United States earn 83 cents for every dollar that men earn.

This gap widens for women of color, according to the US Department of Labor.

According to the AAUW, black women earned 58 cents for every dollar earned by white men in 2019.

In 2019, the AAUW estimated that black women, on average, were paid about 63% of what white men were paid.

To illuminate the specificity of this gap, the AAUW designates September 21 as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.

“Although sexism and racism are distinct forms of discrimination that manifest differently, their effects are compounded when a person experiences both at the same time. Intersectional discrimination perpetuates racial and gender wealth gaps, limits Black women’s access to educational opportunities, and hinders their career advancement,” reads the AAUW website.

Last week, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris announced plans last Tuesday to implement measures to address the gender and racial wage gap.

According to the US Department of Labor, women on average earn less than men in nearly 350 different occupations.

Department of Labor chief economist Janelle Jones wrote that educated black and brown women are representative of that estimate.

“Black and Latina women with only a bachelor’s degree have the largest gap at 65%, and black women with higher degrees earn 70% of what white men with higher degrees earn,” Jones said.

“It’s a big problem, but we know how to solve it,” said Wendy Chun-Hoon, director of the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.

The federal investment strategy includes two major aspects of the gender wage gap: earnings history and occupational segregation.

The Department of Labor plans to limit the use of salary history in the hiring process, which it hopes will help close the gender gap and balance compensation for federal employees.

Additionally, the White House announced that President Biden will sign an Executive Order with the same goals in mind regarding federal contractor employment decisions.

“Looking at things like wage history, what’s really underneath is the fact that women are concentrated in some of the lowest-paying jobs in our economy,” Chun-Hoon said.

The second area of ​​concern for the White House is the effect of occupational segregation on women’s economic security.

Occupational segregation, according to Chun-Hoon, is about where women work and how some of those jobs tend to be valued at a lower rate.

“Looking at things like wage history, what’s really underneath is the fact that women are concentrated in some of the lowest-paying jobs in our economy,” Chun-Hoon said.

She mentioned that the effect of occupational segregation on gender wage disparities also affects racial wage disparities, as does the intersectional nature of income inequality.

“In 2019, that’s even before the impact of the pandemic, black women suffered a loss of $39.3 billion, Hispanic women suffered a loss of $46.7 billion.

billions of dollars in losses just because of the jobs they were concentrated in,” Chun-Hoon said.

The goal, according to Chun-Hoon, is to invest in professions often held by women – such as education and health care – to close the gap.

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