April 12 is Equal Pay Day: the day that symbolizes how far into the year an average woman must work to earn what the average white man earned in the previous year. But that “average woman” doesn’t tell the whole story.
The greater injustice lies in the number of extra months (not days) that women of color need to work in order to make up the gap. The pay gap is also wide for transgender women, who face extreme employment discrimination and are about 4 times more likely than the general population to have a household income of under $10,000 a year.
Here's the kicker: Those disparities could get even worse with any of the Republican presidential candidates in power.
Dollars and Cents That Don’t Make Sense
It’s been 53 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act, which requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. Yet, when using national averages, women still make only 79¢ for every dollar a white man makes. What’s more, mothers are the primary or sole breadwinners in 40% of all families. For a woman who is the head of her household, the gender pay gap stands as a barrier to her achieving upward socioeconomic mobility.
Gender Pay Disparities for Black Women and Latinas Are Startlingly Wide
The gender pay gap has real-life consequences, especially for African-American, Latino, and Native American women. They deal with an even wider pay disparity and are more likely to support their families on one income.
Latinas make 54¢ for every dollar a white man makes. That means they have to work an additional ten months — until Nov. 1 — to catch up to that average white guy’s earnings in the previous year.
Black women make 63¢ for every dollar a white man makes. That means they have to work an additional eight months — until August 23 — to catch up to that average white guy’s earnings in the previous year.
American Indian and Alaska Native women make 59¢. That means they have to work an additional nine months — until September 8 — to catch up to that average white guy’s earnings in the previous year.
But the wage gap isn’t just about one year. It affects lifetimes. In all 50 states, women of color are disproportionately affected by the lifetime wage gap and experience greater challenges accessing basic necessities, including health care.
Based on today’s wage gap:
Black women would lose $877,480 over the course of a 40-year career
Latinas stand to lose $1,007,080 over the course of a 40-year career.
American Indian women stand to lose $883,040 over the course of a 40-year career.
To see the full breakdown of women’s earnings compared to men’s by race and ethnicity, check out the chart below. It is based on data from “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap,” a great resource by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
|Women's earnings as a percentage of men's within the same race/ethnicity
|Women's earnings as a percentage of white men's
|Day of 2016 women must work through to earn what average white men earned last year
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
|American Indian and Alaska Native
Look closely at the numbers above to see the intersection of race and gender.
Where the GOP Presidential Candidates Stand on Equal Pay
Shrinking the wage gap brings with it a host of benefits well beyond the paycheck itself — including helping to increase access to health care for communities of color, who face structural barriers in accessing proper health care and health care coverage. Inexplicably, the GOP presidential field is opposed to legislation to ensure women are paid equally for equal work.
In addition, all three would repeal the Affordable Care Act — a move that would, again, disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income communities’ access to health care.
Overall, here’s where the Republican presidential candidates stand on making sure women are paid fairly:
Regarding equal pay legislation, Donald Trump has not indicated any policy he would support to address it. “I just don’t want [equal pay legislation] to be a negative where everybody ends up making the same pay because that’s not our system,” he said.
Trump also dodged taking a firm position on equal pay by saying it’s hard to compare whether women and men are performing the same job.
Trump said that the women on The Apprentice were successful in large part due to their sex appeal:
“It's certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on The Apprentice were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal.”
In 2014, Sen. Ted Cruz voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, a federal proposal that would help combat wage discrimination and provide more effective remedies to victims of wage discrimination on the basis of sex.
Cruz also criticized President Obama’s efforts to push equal pay legislation: When Obama announced that he would use an executive action to strengthen equal pay laws for employees of federal contractors, Cruz said he was only doing it for “political show votes.”
An investigation into the average salary of employees in the offices of five Ohio elected statewide officials found that women working in Gov. John Kasich's office earn $9.81 less an hour than the men on staff. That pay gap was the highest gender pay gap among all of the statewide officeholders in Ohio that were looked at .
Which Presidential Candidate is the Best on Fair Pay?
When it comes to fair pay, we at Planned Parenthood Action Fund know the best candidate: Secretary Hillary Clinton. She has worked not only to educate the American public about this issue, but also to close the gender pay gap.
While Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders have co-sponsored and consistently voted for legislation aimed at addressing the gender pay gap, Clinton is the only presidential candidate to actually introduce equal pay legislation — and she did it three times. That’s right: three times. She introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2005, in 2007 and in 2009 to give women the tools they need to fight workplace discrimination. And you can bet she will work to pass it as president.
Test Your Knowledge of the Pay Gap — Then Spread the Word
Is your blood boiling yet? We’re guessing the answer is “yes.” But to really understand just how bad the problem is, you’ve got to take our gender pay gap quiz. The answers may shock you.
Remember: Closing the pay gap will only happen when people across the country are talking about this issue, and demanding better — so we're counting on people to help spread the word. So, once you've fact-checked yourself, share the quiz with your family and friends.