Equal Pay Day 2022: Digging Deeper into This Year’s Gender Wage Gap
Equal Pay Day, March 15th, is a day of observance of the persistent gender wage gap in the United States. It marks how far into the new year that women must work to earn what men made in the previous year. Women working full-time earn 83.1 percent of men’s median weekly earnings. But this figure only tells part of the story because it only includes full-time workers. Women are more likely than men to work part-time due to family responsibilities, overrepresentation in service occupations that lack stable work hours, and other economic reasons. When people working full-time and part-time are included, women make just 77.3 percent of what men do. Rates of part-time work vary across race and gender, with Latinas especially likely to work part-time.
We learn more about the structural reasons for the wage gap when we break it down by characteristics like race and occupation. IWPR research shows that part of the wage gap is due to men and women working in different occupations, or occupational segregation. Women are more likely than men to work in the lowest-paid occupations—occupations that are undervalued because they are traditionally considered “women’s work.” Black and Latina women are more likely to work in these jobs than White women.
But even within occupations, men make more than women, and Black and Latina women make the very least.
Wage Gaps Within and Between Occupations
This interactive chart explores the racial and gender wage gap in each major occupational group. The larger the circle, the higher the percentage of women working in that occupation. The color scale shows the wage gap, which is wider for red circles and narrower for blue circles. You can see, for instance, that a large percentage of Latinas (23.9 percent) work in the service sector where their full-time weekly wages are low ($571), and the wage gap is large (Latinas make 69.5 percent of White men’s earnings).
Large Wage Gaps for Women of Color by State
There is also a lot of variation between states for women of different races and ethnicities. The data in the maps below are based on median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers. The darker the state is shaded, the larger the wage gap is for women of a particular race compared to White men in that state.
The COVID pandemic underscored and intensified issues of gender inequality in the United States—last year, the wage gap widened for Black, Latina, and Asian women compared to White men. But the problem isn’t new. It will take structural policy solutions to address this structural inequality.