Wage gap costs women more than $430,000 over a career, new study shows


'Equal Pay Day 2000' Rally in front of the U.S Mint, 300 W. Colfax Ave. , Several womens groups speak out about the current wage gap for women and people of colora . smone where carrying red purses to show that women's pay is still in the red, compared to men's pay. Photo is of ( center left ) Nancy Rinker President of Colorado Business & Professional Womens , with other women's groups . Women in Colorado will join with thousands of women in all 50 States in a national call for for action on fair pay -- over four months into the new year-- when women's earnings, on average , finally cach up to men's paychecks from 1999. (Photo By Glen Martin/The Denver Post via Getty Images)Based on today’s wage gap, a woman starting her career now will lose $430,480 over a 40-year career, and for women of color, the lifetime wage gap is even more dismal.

That according to a recent analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). The new study features an interactive map and state-by-state rankings of the lifetime wage gap for women overall and women by race and ethnicity.

“Women shouldn’t have to work nearly 51 years to make what a man makes in 40 years,” said Emily Martin, NWLC General Counsel and Vice President for Workplace Justice.

“The wage gap hasn’t budged in nearly a decade, and as a result women are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars during their work years,” she said “And for many women of color, the cost of the lifetime wage gap will exceed a million dollars. We literally can’t afford to ignore this.”

In Missouri, the lifetime wage gap for women over a 40-year career is $412,000, and in Illinois, the women’s wage gap is $430,160.


Key findings from the state-by-state analysis include:

  • The cost of today’s wage gap over a 40-year career is the largest for women overall in Louisiana, where it amounts to $671,840 and is the smallest in Florida, where the losses amount to $248,120.
  • Women’s career losses amount to more than half a million dollars in seven states: Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
  • The situation is even worse for women of color. Compared to the earnings of white, non-Hispanic men:

The lifetime wage gap amounts to more than $1 million for Asian American women in one state, for African American women in six states, for Native American women in 13 states, and for Latinas in 23 states.


Kenricks 5-30The cost of today’s wage gap over a 40-year career is:

  • The largest for both African American women and Latinas in D.C., where it amounts to nearly $1.6 million and nearly $1.8 million, respectively.
  • The largest for Asian American women in Alaska, where it amounts to nearly $1.2 million.
  • The largest for Native American women in California, where it amounts to nearly $1.4 million.

The cost of the wage gap over a 40-year career, or the “lifetime wage gap” is based on the latest (2014) data on the difference between women’s and men’s median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers, multiplied by 40 years.

Figures are not adjusted for inflation. State figures are based on five-year annual average American Community Survey data (2010-2014). For the purpose of the analysis, D.C. was considered a state.

The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity.  The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.  For more information on the Center, visit nwlc.org.


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