Hispanic Women Will Wait 232 Years for Equal Pay, If Current Trends Continue

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A new IWPR report finds some states are moving backwards, with Hispanic women’s earnings declining by more than 20% in Wisconsin over the last decade

Projection for equal pay, by race/ethnicity

If we wait for the wage gap to close itself, Hispanic women will have to endure more than two more centuries of pay inequality.

In advance of Latinas’ Equal Pay Day on November 1—the day symbolizing how far into the year that Latinas must work to earn what White men earned in the previous year—the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) released an analysis finding that, if trends over the last 30 years continue, Hispanic women will not see equal pay with White men until 2248, 232 years from now.

IWPR also analyzed earnings growth over the last decade and found that progress for Hispanic women has moved backward: between 2004 and 2014, Hispanic women’s real median annual earnings for full-time, year-round work declined by 4.5 percent—nearly three times as much as women’s earnings overall (1.6 percent). These trends varied widely by state, with only four states—California, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming—and the District of Columbia seeing wage increases among Hispanic women.

“If we wait for the wage gap to close itself, Hispanic women will have to endure more than two more centuries of pay inequality,” said economist and IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “That’s certainly much too long to ask of them and the families who rely on their earnings to make ends meet.”

IWPR has previously found that women overall will not see equal pay until 2059, but the pace of change varies significantly by race and ethnicity. The exceptionally slow pace of progress for Hispanic women, for instance, is nearly two centuries behind when White women should expect to see equal pay with White men (2056). Black women are not projected see equal pay until 2124.

Like Hispanic women, Black and Native American women also saw their earnings fall substantially between 2004 and 2014 (5.0 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively). In comparison, Asian/Pacific Islander women’s earnings increased by 1.2 percent during the same time period and White women’s earnings declined by only 0.3 percent.

IWPR’s researchers recommend a number of policy interventions to address the low and declining wages of Hispanic women, including raising the minimum wage, fully enforcing non-discrimination laws, preventing wage theft, improving Hispanic women’s access to good, higher-paying jobs, and making higher education more accessible and affordable.

“The good news is that there are several policies that we know will help narrow the gap for Hispanic women,” Dr. Hartmann said. “By improving the quality of lower wage jobs and expanding access to post-secondary education and better paying jobs, we can speed up progress for all women, and especially Hispanic women.”

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Jennifer Clark
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