Looks like we'll get to observe a lot more Equal Pay Days before this is settled.

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
Updated: Apr 02, 2019 @ 12:54 pm
Bevan Goldswain/Stocksy

April 2 marks Equal Pay Day which, in case you aren’t familiar, is the exact date that women must work to in 2019 in order to earn what men did in 2018. So that means we've toiled away the first three months of the year for nothing. Pretty crazy, huh?

Equal Pay Day was started by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a way to show the gap between women’s and men’s pay. And while it's not a holiday you celebrate, per se, it's important to note it on the calendar, given that the wage gap is still alive and well.

But what is the wage gap in 2019 and has it changed? Here’s everything you need to know, including the growth in recent years and what women can expect down the line.

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So What Is the Gender Wage Gap Today?

The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, making it illegal for employers to pay men and women differently for doing equal work. At the time, women were earning just 59 percent of what men were for doing the same work,

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), women were paid 22 percent less than men in 2017 — and that’s even after controlling for race and ethnicity, education, age, and location.

And there are some scary facts to pair with that gap: A 2017 EPI report shows that women are paid less than their male colleagues in almost every occupation. Women are also paid less than men at every level of education, including women with advanced degrees who are still paid less than men with bachelor degrees. 

In terms of monetary figures, CNN reported that women earned 82 cents for every dollar a man made in 2016. The means women will lose about $10,470 in median earnings per year.

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And the wage gap bad news keeps coming: In a new study released Monday by the nonprofit National Partnership for Women & Families, it was revealed that women in New York who work year-round and full-time, make an average of $6,735 less than their white male counterparts per year, according to amNewYork. That means women are making 88 cents for every dollar a white man makes, meaning the wage gap has actually increased from the $5,766 difference in 2018, the publication reports.

What Is the Wage Gap for Women of Color?

It should come as no surprise by now that women of color experience even more extreme wage disparity.

According to a 2017 study by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), black women make 63 cents for every dollar made by a man, Native American women make 57 cents and Latina women make 54 cents. Asian American women who work full time, year round make about 87 cents for every dollar, but the wage gap is significantly larger for different nationalities of Asian women.

In 2018, those figures meant that Equal Pay Day wasn't recognized until August 7 for black women; September 7 for Native American women; November 1 for Latina women; and February 22 for Asian American and Pacific Islander women, according to CNBC.

And in the same study released on Monday, it also broke down the growing wage gap in New York by race: Latina women are paid an average of $30,023 per year less than white, non-Hispanic men; Black women pull in $24,370 less; Asian women make $12,591 less; and white, non-Hispanic women are paid $13,147 less, according to amNewYork.

Has There Been Any Progress?

While women saw some progress in shrinking the pay gap in the 1980s and 1990s, the changes have been small over the last several years, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. In 1997, for example, women earned 74.2 cents for every dollar a man made (compared to 80.5 cents in 2017). That's not a lot of progress over the course of a decade. 

What Can You Do to Honor Equal Pay Day?

For starters, you can wear red, the color that Equal Pay Day organizers say symbolizes that women are “in the red with their salaries, compared to men’s," according to Time magazine

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) also encourages people to take a number of steps on Equal Pay Day (and all days) to help institute change, including contacting local legislators and asking them to take action. You can also host an unequal bake sale or happy hour where women pay 20 percent less than men for all purchases. 

Either way, it's important to get involved. The Guardian reported in December that at the rate pay parity is moving, it will take 202 years for the global pay gap to close.

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