This week marked Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. In today’s America, black women must work until August 22, 2019 to make what a white man earned in the year 2018. 61 cents on the dollar, is what black women make in comparison to white men, and given the motherhood pay gap, that number decreases to 54 cents on the dollar.
Earlier this year, the Economic Policy Institute analyzed the history of black women’s position in the labor market. Here’s a look at the economic toll of sex and race discrimination:
“The black woman’s experience in America provides arguably the most overwhelming evidence of the persistent and ongoing drag from gender and race discrimination on the economic fate of workers and families.
“Black women’s labor market position is the result of employer practices and government policies that disadvantaged black women relative to white women and men. Negative representations of black womanhood have reinforced these discriminatory practices and policies. Since the era of slavery, the dominant view of black women has been that they should be workers, a view that contributed to their devaluation as mothers with caregiving needs at home. African-American women’s unique labor market history and current occupational status reflects these beliefs and practices.
“Until the 1970s, employers’ exclusion of black women from better-paying, higher-status jobs with mobility meant that they had little choice but to perform private domestic service work for white families. The 1970s was also the era when large numbers of married white women began to enter into the labor force and this led to a marketization of services previously performed within the household, including care and food services. Black women continue to be overrepresented in service jobs. Nearly a third (28 percent) of black women are employed in service jobs compared with just one-fifth of white women.
“Although black women have a longer history of sustained employment compared with other women, in 2017, the median annual earnings for full-time year-round black women workers was just over $36,000—an amount 21 percent lower than that of white women, reflecting black women’s disproportionate employment in low-wage service and minimum and sub-minimum wage jobs. Black families, however, are more reliant on women’s incomes than other families are since 80 percent of black mothers are breadwinners in their families.
“Despite black women’s importance as breadwinners, the state has compounded the lack of protections afforded black mothers by failing to protect black women as workers.” Read the full analysis here.