In North Carolina, Latina women earn 46.3 cents to every dollar earned by a white male, according to analysis released by the National Women’s Law Center. The analysis, based on newly released Census data, ranked North Carolina in the top ten states with the smallest wage gap between men and women but found that NC has the sixth largest wage gap for Latina women. The wage gap for North Carolina women is 17.2 cents while the wage gap for Latina women is over three times as wide at 53.7 cents. African American women fall somewhere in the middle with a wage gap of 37.3 cents, more than twice that of women overall.
The disparity between the pay of males and women of color is particularly disturbing as the minority workforce in North Carolina continues to grow and as minority women are more likely to become the breadwinners of their families. Based on the wage gap between white males and Latina women, the difference in lifetime earnings over a 40-year career would be over a million dollars. It is clear that these wage differences have long-term consequences that hinder wealth accumulation for minority women. Women of color between the ages of 35 and 49 have been found to have a median wealth of merely $5 compared to the $70,030 accumulated by white men in that age group.
Compared to the wage gap for Latina and African American women, overall women in North Carolina do face a significantly smaller wage gap but that is nothing to get excited about. In fact, it is disturbing that over 70 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed, women in North Carolina are still earning less than men, only 82.8 cents to every dollar. Clearly, the laws we currently have on the books don’t do enough to close the pay gap, and any politician who thinks otherwise is plain wrong.