• COVID-19 pandemic highlights disproportionate impact on Black women’s earnings
  • Black women’s earnings lag White men’s in every state

The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the pernicious effect of gender and racial inequality, and the profound undervaluation of some of the most essential jobs for society, ones that require the care and supports of families. Black women are particularly likely to be the main breadwinner in their families, and are often the bedrock of their communities. But in a recent survey, close to half of Black women reported that they do not have a stable, good-paying job that covers the bills, allows for savings, and allows them to be healthy. This is compared with slightly more than a quarter of White men who report the same. Furthermore, Black women, on average, earn only 61.8 cents for every dollar earned by White men in a year of full-time work for a gender racial wage gap of 38.2 percent. In 2020, this wage gap translates into lower annual earnings of $23,652. Black women’s lower earnings mean higher rates of poverty, fewer resources for supporting their families, and little to no safety net in case of extended crisis.

Few signs indicate this gap in earnings is decreasing. Indeed, a decade ago, in 2010, the gap was marginally lower at 37.7 percent. Projecting the rate of change in the wage gap forward from 1985, it would take Black women another 110 years—until 2130—to catch up with the earnings of White men. In addition, the wage gap between Black women and White men is substantially larger than the 18.4 percent wage gap between all women and all men.