The Wage Gap: Terrible For All Women, Even Worse For Women Of Color

Is anyone surprised?
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How much does being a woman cost over a lifetime? A lot more if she's Latina.

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day -- the day that marks how far into the year full-time employed women have to work in order to earn what their male counterparts earned in the year prior. To mark the occasion, the National Women's Law Center released a report showing how much the wage gap costs women over their lifetime.

The findings, released earlier this month, are based on 2014 U.S. Census data showing the difference between women’s and men’s median annual earnings for full-time, year-round employees, multiplied by 40 years. The data comes from a Census study that does not take immigration status into account, meaning it doesn't make distinctions about whether or not people are undocumented.

We're often reminded that women earn 79 cents for every dollar men earn, but what sometimes gets lost is that the gap is much worse for Latinas, black women and other women of color. Here are some of the NWLC's most jarring takeaways about being a woman of color working in the U.S.:

Women overall lose out on more than $400,000 over the course of their careers, but most women of color are shorted more than double that.

Men out-earn women in all 50 states and in Washington D.C. For full-time, year-round employees nationwide, women earn a median annual $39,621 compared to men's $50,383 -- a yearly difference of $10,762. If a woman works for 40 years, then, that adds up to a lifetime shortfall of $430,480 as compared to a man.

But most women of color can expect to lose out on a lot more. When compared to the earnings of white men, that wage loss figure rises to $883,040 for Native American women, $877,480 for black women and $1,007,080 for Latinas.

The gap is smaller -- though still nowhere near equitable -- for Asian-American women, whose lifetime wage difference compared to white men totals $365,440. So, you know, just a third of a million dollars, instead of an actual million dollars.

In a shocking number of states, white men earn more than twice as much as Latinas.

There are 12 states, or about a quarter of the country, where Latinas on average earn less than half of what white men make per year. In order from greatest lifetime wage gap to least, these states are New Jersey, California, Maryland, Connecticut, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, Rhode Island, Utah, Georgia and Alabama.

For black women, the above is true only in Louisiana, and for Native American women it's only true in Delaware. There are no states where, overall, men earn twice as much per year as women, and no states where white men earn twice as much as Asian-American women.

Our nation's capital is setting a horrible example.

At first glance, Washington, D.C., doesn't look like one of the most dire environments. With lifetime wage losses for women overall totaling $288,560, it's the seventh best state for working women.

But when lifetime wage loss for black women and Latinas is stacked up against the lifetime earnings of white men, D.C. comes in dead last. It's also the second worst for Asian-American women and eighth worst for Native American women.

Nearly half the states are shorting Latinas more than $1 million over the course of their careers.

There are 23 states where Latinas are losing out on more than $1 million during their careers when compared to white men. That figure is closer to $2 million in D.C. ($1,781,720), New Jersey ($1,685,120) and California ($1,616,520), according to the report.

And it's not much better for other women of color. The lifetime earning gap also exceeds $1 million for Native American women in 13 states, black women in six states and Asian-American women in one state.

Louisiana has the biggest overall wage gap in the country.

Over the course of a woman's career in Louisiana, based on median annual earnings, she loses out on $671,840 as compared to a man -- the highest wage gap between men and women in the country. Following Louisiana are Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota and New Hampshire.

Louisiana is the fourth worst state for black and Asian-American women, the seventh worst state for Native American women and the 14th worst state for Latinas when their pay is compared to that of white men.

Louisiana state legislators are currently weighing an equal pay bill that would ensure fair wages for women. The bill has strong support from Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and passed in a state Senate committee earlier this month, but it could face an uphill battle in the state House, which vetoed similar legislation last year.

Florida has the smallest overall wage gap.

Without taking race into account, Florida has the smallest gender wage gap. Women in the state lose out on a total $248,120 over the course of their careers, slightly less than half the nationwide figure. Following the Sunshine State are Nevada, North Carolina, Hawaii and New York.

But similar to D.C., Florida is much less balanced when you look at what women of color earn over a lifetime as compared to white men. It ranks 27th worst for black women, 24th worst for Asian-American women, 15th worst for Native-American women and 13th worst for Latinas.

The states closest to equal pay for black and Latinas are also some of the whitest states in the country.

Vermont has the lowest lifetime wage loss for black women and Latinas. Maine and New Hampshire come in second and third for Latinas, while Idaho and Kentucky come in second and fourth for black women.

While these relatively small wage disparities deserve praise, they don't exactly affect a huge number of people. None of those states are home to many black women or Latinas, and they all rank among the least diverse states with populations that are at least 90 percent white. And even this group includes some noteworthy trouble spots: Vermont is the sixth worst state in the country for Asian-American women in terms of lifetime wage loss, for example, and both Idaho and New Hampshire fall in the bottom 50th percentile for Asian-American women as well.

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