A new analysis of this week’s Census data on income and poverty, which found a statistically insignificant narrowing of the wage gap between men and women from 77 to 78 cents on the dollar, finds that the wage gap is much wider for women of color and varies widely state by state.
The analysis by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) finds that most women of color make even less compared to white men than white women do. In comparison to white, non-Hispanic men, Hispanic women in 2013 made 54 cents on the dollar (the widest gap), African-American women made 64 cents, American Indian and Alaska Native women made 59 cents, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women made 65, and Asian-American women made 90 cents. White women made 78 cents on the dollar, more than every racial and ethnic group other than Asian-American women.
The gap also widened slightly for Native women and for Pacific Islander women, while it slightly narrowed or stayed the same for other groups.
The gap narrows when you compare most women of color to men of their same race, since there is also a pay gap between white men and men of color. For instance, Hispanic women make 90 percent of what Hispanic men do, and African-American women make 91 percent of what African-American men do. Only Asian-American women’s gap widens, to 79 cents from 90, when compared to other Asian-American men.
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State-based data found that Washington, D.C., stayed on top with the smallest wage gap between male and female full-time workers—91 percent. New York (86 percent) overtook Maryland (85 percent) for the number two slot. And Wyoming was replaced by Louisiana as the worst state for gender pay gaps. This year Wyoming had a 69 percent gap, with last-place Louisiana far behind at 66 percent.
A number of factors could determine whether a state will have a high or low wage gap. “The numbers shift around from year to year, and it’s hard to pinpoint specific reasons for it,” Christianne Corbett, senior researcher at AAUW, told Rewire. “The kinds of industries in a state form part of the answer. Available jobs vary in part as a reflection of industry. As men and women still tend to work in different industries and in different jobs, their opportunities and earnings vary by state.”
The bottom five states, including Louisiana, tend to rely heavily on “kind of traditional male jobs,” Lisa Maatz, vice president of governmental relations for AAUW, told the Associated Press. “In West Virginia you have coal mining; in Wyoming you have ranching and farming. In North Dakota, there’s a booming energy and gas industry.”
Critics are quick to point out that the wage gap doesn’t take into account factors like education, industry, and experience. The AAUW analysis acknowledges this is true, and that when you account for those kinds of factors, you come up with a seven-cent gap that can’t be explained.
But a seven-cent gap is not insignificant, the authors write—”AAUW welcomes people to donate 7 percent of their paycheck to us if they think that’s a small number not worth quibbling over”—and the bigger wage gap numbers are still crucial because they give a snapshot of how much money women are able to make for their families. The big wage gap number also, the report says, “makes clear that, for whatever reason, women are making less money than men. Period.”