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Black Women’s Top Jobs Pay Half What White Women’s Do

What happens when the racial pay gap meets the gender pay gap.

RF office businesswoman black

Source: Hero Images via Getty Images

On average, a black woman in the U.S. has to work more than eight additional months to earn what, on average, a white man does in one calendar year. Tuesday, Aug. 7, marks this ignominious milestone: It’s what’s known as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. It also falls four months after the same marker for white women, who experience a smaller wage gap than African-American women do.  

A major factor in the black-white gap is what’s known as occupational sorting—the clustering of demographic groups into certain jobs and fields. Women tend to cluster in lower paying jobs than men, black people in lower paying jobs relative to white people. Black women are doubly punished. In the U.S., the most popular jobs for white women pay almost twice as much as the most popular jobs for black women. 

“It’s reflective of gender and racial discrimination that we know exists in the workplace and in terms of what opportunities are available to women of color,” said Valerie Wilson, the director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy.