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Black Women Face Racial, Gender Pay Gap

In 2016, black women's wages were 67 percent of white men's, compared with 76 percent for white women. (Getty Images)
In 2016, black women's wages were 67 percent of white men's, compared with 76 percent for white women. (Getty Images)
August 1, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Black women have to work seven months into 2017 to be paid the same amount of money white men took home in 2016, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute.

Valerie Wilson, director of the institute, notes black women face both racial and gender pay gaps and says because the U.S. economy depends on consumer spending the impacts are far reaching.

"When we have a significant portion of our population and our workforce being under-compensated, that has a direct effect on the growth of our economy," she explains.

Critics of wage-gap studies frequently point out that women tend to be employed in jobs that pay less than those traditionally held by men.

But Wilson says that even after controlling for factors including occupation, years of experience, and education level, African-American women still are paid less than their white male counterparts.

Wilson says progress is slowing for black women, who were paid close to the same as white women in 1979. But in 2016, white women's wages grew to 76 percent of white men's - according to the report - compared with 67 percent for black women.

Wilson adds black women are also paid less at every level of education.

"In fact, African-American women with advanced degrees actually earn less than white men with only a bachelor's degree," she adds. "So education is not the answer to closing this gap."

Wilson says federal law prohibits pay discrimination based on race and gender, but the measures can be difficult to enforce. She says policies requiring pay transparency would give employees the evidence they need to prove their cases.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY