April 3 is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Equal Pay Day. New IWPR research finds that in 2022, for full-time year-round workers, AANHPI women were paid just 92.7 cents per dollar earned by White men. AANHPI women made less than White men in all states for which data are available for all workers with earnings.

In Mississippi, AANHPI women were paid just 51.3 cents on the dollar paid to White men for all workers with earnings. For full-time year-round workers in Alaska, women were paid just 55.4 percent of White men. Mississippi and Alaska ranked the lowest out of all states for all workers with earnings and full-time year-round workers, respectively. (Hover over the maps below to see the median annual earnings for AANHPI women and White men, the gender racial earnings ratio, and the state ranking compared to the earnings ratio elsewhere.)

Source: IWPR analysis of 2018-2022 American Community Survey as provided by Steven Ruggles, Sarah Flood, Matthew Sobek, Daniel Backman, Annie Chen, Grace Cooper, Stephanie Richards, Renae Rogers, and Megan Schouweiler. IPUMS USA: Version 14.0 2018-2022 American Community Survey 5-year estimates. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 2023, https://doi.org/10.18128/D010.V14.0.
Notes: Workers are 16 years and older. Full-time is at least 35 hours per week; full-year is at least 50 weeks per year. Wyoming is excluded for insufficient sample size. Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont do not have sufficient sample size to measure median annual earnings for full-time year-round workers.

Asian American women are 1.4 times as likely to hold a bachelor’s degree as White men, so why do they make less?

AANHPI women face several challenges that contribute to their lower pay compared to White men. Asian American women who are highly educated face bias and employment discrimination and are much less likely to be in management and executive positions than White men despite being highly qualified.

Based on their share of the population, Asian American women are also more likely than expected to work in low-wage service sector jobs. For example, Vietnamese American women disproportionately work in low-wage service sector jobs, such as manicurists—tipped minimum wage jobs that often combine lower pay with low or no benefits such as paid sick time and health insurance.

More than half (57 percent) of the Asian population in the United States is estimated to be foreign-born, and immigration status can be a major factor when understanding the wage gap. On average, college-educated Asian immigrant women make less than White women with comparable backgrounds.

While child care and elder care responsibilities are not exclusive to AANHPI women, they, like other women, are more likely than men to take on these duties. This means less time spent on paid work than men, reducing earnings overall.

No single factor accounts for the earnings gap between AANHPI women and White men, so addressing the wage gap requires a multifaceted approach. It is imperative that policymakers focus on offering certain benefits for employees, such as paid sick time and family leave, in order to improve the workforce for AANHPI women.