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 78.6 percent in 2014 to 79.6 in 2015, which the Census Bureau reported was not statistically significant. If current trends continue, women will not receive equal pay until 2059, according to a related IWPR analysis of trends in earnings since 1960.
While progress on closing the gender wage gap continued to stagnate for White and Hispanic women, Black women saw a notable narrowing of the wage gap with White men by 3.5 percentage points. This progress was due largely in part to a spike in Black women’s real median annual earnings. While women of all major racial and ethnic groups saw real wages increase in 2015, Black women’s earnings increased 9 percent (from $33,225 to $36,212), compared with increases of 4.3 percent for Asian women, 2.6 percent for Hispanic women, and 2.8 percent for White women. Despite these gains in earnings, the gender wage gap for women of color continues to indicate a marked earnings inequality for Hispanic and Black women. For every dollar earned by a White man, Hispanic women earned just 54 cents and Black women earned just 63 cents in 2015.
“We have gotten used to seeing slow or stagnant progress on closing the gender wage gap in the last decade,” said economist and IWPR President Heidi Hartmann. “There are welcome signs of progress in these data, especially large real earnings gains for Black women, but there is more to be done to speed up progress and make sure gains are sustained, broadly experienced, and contribute to closing the gender wage gap.”
Despite an improvement in earnings, Hispanic women’s real wages, at $31,109 in 2015, are below the qualifying income threshold for eligibility of food stamps ($31,247 per year in 2015, which is 130 percent of the federal poverty threshold for a family of four).
The marked increases in earnings over the last year for women of all races and ethnicities follows a recent IWPR analysis of women’s wage growth over the last decade, finding that women’s wages fell 1.6 percent since 2004, with Black, Native American, and Hispanic women’s earnings falling around three times as much as women’s earnings overall.
“For groups that have seen a decade of wage decline, the improvement in earnings over the last year is a genuinely good sign,” said Dr. Hartmann. “But we have a lot of ground to make up for and much progress still to make.”
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.