When you consider earnings, being a white male in Washington, D.C. is a good thing. However, it is not so great being a woman of color.
According to a state-level analysis from the National Women’s Law Center, the nation’s capital has the widest pay gap in the nation when considering the median income of white, non-Hispanic males and women who are African-American or Latina.
Over a lifetime, the significant earnings gap can add up to more than one million dollars. The lifetime wage gap losses for Latinas equates to $1.8 million over the course of a 40-year career in D.C. For African-American women, the losses equate to $1.6 million.
Even when race is not taken into consideration, there is a significant gender gap in pay, which is approximate one-sixth of what men in D.C. make. This equates to women earning $289,000 less in their lifetime than their male counterparts do.
According to the NWLC Vice President for Workplace Justice, Emily Martin, the wage gap for African-American women and Latinas is staggering.
Martin believes there is much more to work on and that the results show the issue needs to be taken seriously as a matter of policy.
On a national level, men make $430,480 more over their 40-year career. The analysis was based on the median annual earnings for full-time workers who work year-round. When adding up the differences in earnings, it is obvious how much this affects families. Many of these families rely on the income of women’s due to the shrinking number of families with male breadwinners.
Another state with a significant pay gap between women of color and white men is California. In California, Native American women earn $1.4 million less over their lifetime than white men do. In Alaska, white men will earn $1.2 million more than Asian-American women will. According to the report, for Latinas, the lifetime wage gap was over $1 million in 23 states. It was the same in six states for African-American women and 13 states for Native American women.
Martin adds that states with a higher minimum wage, such as Washington, D.C., New York, and Vermont, typically have a smaller pay gap. Women make up the majority of minimum wage workers, approximately two-thirds. States with large extractive and mining industries, such as Louisiana and Wyoming, have a wider wage gap, since those higher paying fields are male dominated.
The pay gap has remained durable has been approximately 80 cents for every dollar since 2007.
Since the median figure for all men and women are used, the analysis by the NWLC does not include other factors, such as occupational sorting. Occupational sorting includes the tendency for women to be primary caregivers, which contributes to interruptions in career paths, or that women are often employed in low-paying fields.
Cornell University economists found that, even when controlling for these additional variables that can affect income, there remains a portion of the pay gap that is unexplained, about 8 cents. This unexplained difference is typically attributed to discrimination.
Martin and Kate Gallagher Robbins, who is the Director of Research and Policy Analysis, stated that studies on disparities between different states could provide insight into preventing pay inequality and helping to increase the wages for women of color.
According to Robbins, since states have different issues with wage gaps, there are promising questions to investigate.