Report: From Harlem To Hollis Failing Working Black Women, Local Wage Gap Is Wider In The U.S.

August 6, 2018

Today, ahead of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day on August 7th, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released an alarming analysis of Black women’s earnings in New York City that uncovers a wage gap higher than New York State and the entire U.S. The day of recognition—which is held each year on the day that a Black woman’s earnings would “catch up” to a white man’s from the previous year—would be held on October 3rd for Black women in NYC, a full two months later than the national observance. The report, Inside the Gender Wage Gap, reveals that City government has failed to address a disparity that has worsened for Black women, despite an increase in their earnings and education. Comptroller Stringer’s report also found that while Black women have the highest labor force participation rate among women of color in the City and increasing rates of higher education, they have the highest unemployment rate and are more than three times as likely as white men to work in lower-paying service occupations.

“In a city like New York that touts its progressive ideals, it is an outrage that Black women in 2018 are still denied economic equality,” said Comptroller Stringer. “As a city we’re failing to level the playing field for Black women and denying them the opportunity to buy their own home, pursue more education, or have economic security. They should not have to work an additional 30 years to earn the same living as a white man. If New York is going to continue to be a progressive leader in this country, City leaders need to put immediate plans into action.”

Findings detailed in the brief include:

  • In 2016, Black women working full-time in New York City made 57 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men—roughly $32,000 less on average;
  • The wage gap for Black women in New York City is larger than for Black women in New York State and the U.S.—43 cents compared to 34 cents and 37 cents, respectively;
  • Over a 40-year career, the median full-time working Black woman in New York City would lose on average over $1,274,000 in earnings due to the gender wage gap. She would have to work an additional 30 years to attain the same earnings as her white, male counterpart;
  • If the gender wage gap were closed, the more than 350,000 Black women working full-time, year-round in New York City in 2016 would have collectively contributed around $11.2 billion more in earnings to the local economy;
  • In 2016, nearly one in four (23.4 percent) Black women and girls in New York City lived in poverty, more than twice the rate among white men and boys (11.3 percent) and nearly twice the rate among white women and girls (12.8 percent); and
  • Between 2010 and 2016, the growth in attainment of bachelor’s and graduate degrees among Black women outpaced that of women across racial and ethnic groups; the proportion of Black women 25-years-old or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher grew 14.5 percent during that time, compared to 9.0 percent for white men.

The analysis shows the gender wage gap not only harms individual Black women and their families, limiting their ability to afford housing and other necessities, pay down debt, and build savings for the future, it also reinforces generational disparities in wealth and constrains economic activity in communities across the city.

Stringer is calling on city leaders to implement an emergency plan that includes the following:

  • Guarantee access to family-sustaining wages: New York City and New York State should promote additional strategies to raise wages, strengthen protections, and address the devaluing of jobs in which women are overrepresented. This includes supporting existing campaigns to increase and enhance the Earned Income Tax Credit, and boost the wages of New York City’s early childhood educators, the majority of whom are women;
  • Expand and create equitable access to affordable child care and paid leave: Greater access to resources like child care as well as paid time off to provide care for loved ones would help Black women remain connected to the workforce and advance in their careers. Strategies to do so include expanding access to subsidized child care, including for women who work nontraditional hours such as nights and weekends, typical of service-sector jobs;
  • Invest in programs to increase educational and occupational equity: In order to address educational and occupational segregation, policies and programs should be pursued that support access to higher education, increase recruitment in higher-paying occupations, and raise the visibility of Black women in leadership and in roles in which they have historically been underrepresented; and
  • Strengthen enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and practices: New York City has among the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, and oversight and enforcement of these laws must remain vigilant. The City must ensure Black women are able to safely come forward to share experiences of discrimination, and use its legislative and regulatory powers to hold those in violation accountable and create greater transparency around compensation.

To read the report, click here.

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