Progress on Closing the Gender Wage Gap Remains Stalled

Press Release

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

White women saw the largest earnings gains in the last year, while Black women saw the smallest

Women will not see equal pay until 2059, if current trends continue

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 in 2018 was 81.6 percent, corresponding to a wage gap of 18.4 percent, a statistically insignificant change from the previous year (when it was 81.7 percent). The wage gap is more pronounced for Hispanic and Black women, who made just 54 cents and 62 cents, respectively, for every dollar earned by White men.

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 for the last three years, indicating that the rate of progress has stalled.

Earnings gains among women varied widely by race and ethnicity. While White women’s median annual earnings increased by 4.6 percent ($2,113), the highest percentage among all groups of women, earnings for Black women working full-time, year-round only increased by $130 for the year, or 0.3 percent. The earnings increase for Hispanic women, at 1.8 percent, is also much lower than gains for all women. The typical earnings of a Black or Hispanic woman working full-time, year-round, would leave an adult with two children in near-poverty, according to the federal poverty threshold.

“While it is encouraging to finally see significant increases in real earnings for both women and men, the unequal distribution of these gains should raise concerns for everyone. Black and Hispanic women’s work needs to be equitably valued if we want today’s working women to see equal pay before they retire,” said economist and IWPR Postdoctoral Fellow Valerie Lacarte, Ph.D.

“We often hear that women are well-positioned to benefit in the future workforce due to their increased investments in their education and training. But these data remind us that gender and racial inequalities in the labor market are hard-wired into the system. Policymakers, communities, and employers should address the issues underlying the wage gap to ensure that the future of work is reshaped to benefit all workers, including women of color,” said IWPR Program Director on Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.