Today is Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date on which women’s earnings nationwide finally catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year. The average woman in the United States earns 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. The overall average is the same for women in New Jersey, which ranks right in the middle of the states (25th) on pay equity. The only women in the Garden State who out-earn that figure are Asians (88 cents). That’s about the only bright spot. Otherwise, the news on our pay-equity statistics is far from comforting.
The state ranks dead last among the 50 states and Puerto Rico in pay equity for Latinas (51st) and near the bottom for African-American and white non-Hispanic women (both 42nd). Native American women in New Jersey do a little better (36th).
For every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earns in the Garden State, the average Latina makes 42 cents. For African-American and Native American women, it’s 56 cents. The figure is 74 cents for white non-Hispanic women.
Women in New York and Pennsylvania do far better. New York: Women’s overall average (88 cents), Asian women (83 cents), white non-Hispanic women (81 cents), African-American women (65 cents), Native American women (62 cents) and Latinas (56 cents). Pennsylvania: Overall (81 cents), Native American women (91 cents), Asian women (81 cents), white non-Hispanic women (78 cents), African-American women (67 cents) and Latinas (57 cents).
The issue has huge financial consequences for women over the course of their working lives. “The typical millennial woman in the U.S. can expect to lose $1 million over her lifetime as a result of the gender wage gap, and this amount is even larger for minority women,” said Professor Yana Rodgers, an economist and faculty director of the Rutgers Center for Women and Work, which announced the rankings. “Much of the disparity results from the ‘mommy tax,’ in which women with caregiving obligations hold lower-paying jobs with more flexibility, or they exit the labor market to care for young children only to return to low-level jobs,” Rodgers said. “Government policies have helped to narrow the gender pay gap over time, but more needs to be done to eliminate the ‘mommy tax,’ open doors to women in non-traditional occupations, and support fathers in taking on caregiving roles.”