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Gender Pay Gap has Narrowed but Racial Gaps Persist

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Women's median weekly earnings for full-time work were $891 in 2020 compared with $1,082 for men. (nito/Adobe Stock)
Women's median weekly earnings for full-time work were $891 in 2020 compared with $1,082 for men. (nito/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears - Producer, Contact
March 26, 2021

NEW YORK - Last year on average, women working full-time were paid almost 18% less than men, a gender pay gap that grows much larger for Black and Hispanic women.

Wednesday was Equal Pay Day, marking the number of extra months and weeks women have to work to catch up to the amount men were paid last year. Data compiled by the Institute for Women's Policy Research shows that nationally women were paid a little more than 82 cents for every dollar paid to men in 2020.

According to PowHer New York founder and president Beverly Neufeld, the Empire State is above the national average at about 86 cents to the dollar overall, but that doesn't hold true for all women.

"For women of color," said Neufeld, "we are doing just as badly as the rest of the country which I think is really a sad statement for a state that prides itself on its diversity."

Equal Pay Day for Black women won't come until August 3, and for Hispanic women the date is October 21.

A high rate of job loss due to the pandemic for women in the lowest-paid jobs caused the weekly gender wage gap for full-time workers to narrow by 0.8% last year. Neufeld said it's important to keep the gap from growing again as the pandemic wanes.

"We need to support the needs of mothers and women, with child-care funding for example," said Neufeld. "Making sure that women can go back to their jobs and get paid fairly."

COVID-related disproportionate job loss also led to a decrease in the weekly gender wage gaps by race and ethnicity for woman compared with white, non-Hispanic men.

The past year has been challenging for everyone. But Neufeld said she believes that, because of the COVID pandemic and the reckoning with racial inequality in 2020, people are beginning to see the struggle for equal pay in a different light.

"This is an opportunity for us to take on this essential issue that needs to be addressed for our society to have equality," said Neufeld, "because without economic equality there can't be equality."

She said she's is cautiously optimistic that someday in the not-too-distant future, Equal Pay Day will be the same day for everyone.

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