It takes Black women 19 months to equal a white man's annual earnings

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It takes Black women 19 months to equal a white man's annual earnings
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  • Black women make 63 cents for every dollar non-Hispanic white men make.
  • According to NWLC, that means a loss of almost a million dollars over a 40-year career.
  • There are different things policymakers and companies can do to close this pay gap.

August 3 is Black women's Equal Pay Day. That is, it will take a typical Black woman starting on January 1, 2020 an additional seven months into 2021 to earn what non-Hispanic white men made in 2020 alone.

Black women working full-time, year-round make 63 cents for every dollar similarly employed non-Hispanic white men make.

This pay gap can add up in the long-term. According to National Women's Law Center, it means a Black woman can lose $964,400 over a 40-year career.

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"That's dreams deferred. That's delaying home ownership," C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, told Insider. "That's not having money to plan for your future, your retirement, send your children to college. These are real dollars and cents and have a real direct impact on women's ability to be financially secure but also to build wealth."

Black households have historically held less wealth in the US than white households. According to a Goldman Sachs report as reported by CNN, Black women in the US hold 90% less wealth than white men.

Equal Pay Day varies by race and ethnicity

As seen in the graphic below, the approximate days when women reach equal pay as a typical white man varies in the year by race and ethnicity. For Latina women, equal pay day isn't until October 21.

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It takes Black women 19 months to equal a white man's annual earnings
Taylor Tyson/Insider

A pandemic of inequity

It's no secret that the pandemic has been felt unequally. Even before the pandemic, the racial wealth gap was wide - a report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress found that, in 2019, Black households held $24,100 in median wealth. For white households, it was $189,100.

That gap only widened in 2020 and so far this year; in the first quarter of 2021, white Americans held $109.10 trillion in household wealth, adding $15.55 trillion since the fourth quarter of 2019. Black Americans held $5.31 trillion, a $0.88 trillion increase in this same period. That means that white households in aggregate held 20 times more in household wealth.

Additional analysis from the Center for American Progress found that Black households were not as able to fall back on savings during the pandemic, despite being disproportionately impacted by unemployment and the virus. And, throughout the pandemic, Black women's unemployment remained elevated - impacting their earnings, exacerbating wage gaps, and worsening their ability to save. Black women and Black Americans have also been disproportionately impacted by pandemic employment losses, even as recovery forges on.

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Jasmine Tucker, director of research at the National Women's Law Center, said that Black women were more likely to be working on the frontlines of the pandemic, but still remained on the other end of a pay gap - earning less in what were more hazardous conditions.

"While we were relying on them - on their labor - like never before, we continued to pay them 63 cents on the dollar," Tucker said. "That just blows my mind. We're depending on the labor, we continue to underpay them, even as they're taking on all this additional risk."

What can be done to accelerate reaching equal pay

At the current rate, it would take until 2133 to close this gap, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

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Mason said there are a few things that can be done to reduce this estimate. This includes enacting laws that promote pay transparency to help in part address differences in pay by gender and race. She added also working toward having more Black women in more higher-pay sectors and positions, as Black women make up a large number of workers in low-wage sectors. Companies, she said, also need to have equitable compensation programs.

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