Gender Wage Gap Narrows for First Time in a Decade, but Women Won’t See Equal Pay for 43 More Years

Press Release

Compared with White men, the wage gap narrowed for White women and widened for Black women

Black women were the only group of women to see their wages fall

 

Contact: Jennifer Clark | 202-785-5100 | clark@iwpr.org

Washington, DC— A fact sheet by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) uses updated data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau to chart the gender earnings ratio since 1960 and analyzes changes in earnings during the last year by gender, race, and ethnicity. The gender wage ratio improved slightly from 79.6 in 2015 to 80.5 in 2016, the first statistically significant improvement in the annual wage ratio since 2007.

If current trends continue, women will not receive equal pay until 2059, according to a related IWPR analysis of trends in earnings since 1960. This projection for equal pay remains unchanged since last year, indicating that the rate of progress, while improving, is still slow.

Women’s earnings across the major racial and ethnic groups increased or stayed the same from last year, except for Black women, who saw their earnings decline by 1.3 percent between 2015 and 2016. White women saw the greatest earnings gains at 4.9 percent, while Hispanic women’s earnings remained virtually unchanged. Asian women’s earnings increased by 2.8 percent.

White women saw significant gains in earnings relative to White men, earning 79 cents for every dollar earned by White men in 2016 (up from 75.3 cents in 2015), while Hispanic women saw no improvement, earning 54.4 cents for every White man’s dollar, and Black women saw a decline, earning 62.5 cents for every dollar earned by a White man (down from 63.3 cents in 2015).

“Women are highly invested in their education—more so than men—and this should lead to a relative increase in their earnings. The gains overall show important progress, but we must pay close attention to whether these gains are broadly felt, or only felt by certain groups. The data highlight the continued disparity in earnings among women. Hispanic women who work full-time for an entire year still receive pay low enough to qualify a family of four for food stamps,” said IWPR Program Director for Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch.

The earnings disparities among women reflect a broader inequality in the labor market, as recent IWPR research found that young Black women face higher unemployment rates today than their White counterparts saw at the height of the Great Recession.

“As the economy continues to grow and becomes more productive, we must make sure that all groups of women benefit,” said economist and IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Progress on closing the gender wage gap, and indeed economic progress generally, will remain slow if women of color do not see the gains they have long been due.”

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.