Washington, DC—In advance of Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day on September 15th—the day symbolizing how far into the year that Native American women must work to earn what White men earned in the previous year—the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) released an analysis finding that, between 2004 and 2014, Native American women’s real median annual earnings for full-time, year-round work declined by 5.8 percent—more than three times as much as women’s earnings overall (1.6 percent) and the largest decline in wages for women of all racial and ethnic groups.
The analysis includes data on Native American women’s earnings growth for states with large Native American populations, finding wide geographic variations in women’s earnings growth or decline. Native American women’s median annual earnings increased by 6.4 percent in Oklahoma, making it the state with the largest growth between 2004 and 2014. Alaska experienced the largest decline in Native American women’s real median annual earnings, where earnings decreased by 17.9 percent. Native American women in New Mexico saw their earnings fall by 10.2 percent.
“Wages have stagnated or declined for many groups of women and men, but this is an especially concerning reminder that the slow recovery from the Great Recession has been slower for some more than others,” said economist and IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Even in the places where earnings for Native American women increased, the wages were low to begin with.”
Like Native American women, Black women and Hispanic women also saw their earnings fall substantially between 2004 and 2014 (5.0 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively). In comparison, Asian/Pacific Islander women’s earnings increased by 1.2 percent during the same time period and White women’s earnings declined by only 0.3 percent.
Another analysis from IWPR released last week found that 2 in 3 Native American mothers are breadwinners and more than 40 percent are single breadwinners raising a family on their own.
“Native American families cannot afford declining wages among mothers. Raising the minimum wage, enforcing anti-discrimination laws, and making higher education more accessible and affordable for Native American women would go a long way to reversing this concerning trend,” Dr. Hartmann said.
Find the state-level data and analysis online at IWPR.org.
This analysis is part of a series of IWPR research products on topics relevant to the 2016 election. Other topics include the gender wage gap, the benefits of paid sick days, student parents, and the status of women of color in the United States.
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