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Louisiana’s Gender Wage Gap Remains One of the Worst as Legislators Reject Policy Fixes

Teddy Wilson

Women in the United States are on average paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to white men, and the gender-based wage gap is the widest in predominantly rural and conservative states.

Louisiana has the highest gender wage gap in the United States, with Black women working in the state facing the largest overall cents-on-the-dollar wage gap in the nation. Women working in Louisiana earn 70 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and Black women working in the state earn just 47 cents for every dollar earned by a white man.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Louisiana legislature recently voted down a proposal backed by the governor to increase the state’s minimum wage, and rejected a pair of bills to require companies that are awarded state contracts to comply with state laws requiring equal pay and prohibit companies from taking action against workers who discuss their salaries.

Women in the United States are on average paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, and the gender-based wage gap is the widest in predominantly rural and conservative states, according to an analysis by the National Partnership for Women and Families. The new statistics come as advocates and lawmakers recognize Equal Pay Day, established in the 1990s to illustrate the yawning gender wage gap. 

The pay gap cost women working full time in the United States a total of nearly $900 billion each year.

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Nationally, the wage gap is worse for women of color. While white women earn 79 cents on the dollar compared to men, Black women earn 63 cents and Latina women earn 54 cents for every dollar paid to men.

Vicki Shabo, vice president for workplace policies and strategies at the National Partnership for Women and Families, told Rewire.News that women of color disproportionately work in low-wage jobs and are impacted by both systemic sexism and racism.

“Home care and child care tend to be very low pay occupations that are disproportionately done by women of color,” Shabo said. “Study after study shows intersecting barriers and biases against women of color.”

There has been some improvement in the wage gap in the Louisiana. Last year, women working in the state earned 68 cents for every dollar earned by men. However, year after year, women working in Louisiana have faced one of the largest pay gaps in the United States.

The wage gap is even greater for women living in Louisiana’s 3rd and 6th congressional districts, where women earn 66 and 65 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Louisiana residents believe there is significant discrimination against women and that lawmakers should continue making changes for workplace equality, according to a survey published by the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs at Louisiana State University.

Among those surveyed, 61 percent believe there remains “significant obstacles that make it harder for women to get ahead than men,” and 75 percent agree that the government should “continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace.”

Conservatives have long claimed that the wage gap is a myth. Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, said in a statement that the pay gap cannot be “explained by women’s choices.” Comprehensive studies have also debunked the charge that there is no such thing as a gender wage gap. 

“It’s clear that discrimination contributes to it—and equally clear that it’s causing grave harm to women, families and the country,” Ness said. “If our country is to thrive, we must root out bias in wages, reject outdated stereotypes and stop penalizing women for having children and caring for their families.”

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