Women of Color: An Economic Snapshot

Filed in DOL, Women, Workforce Development by on November 16, 2013 4 Comments

Today, you can find countless articles and research papers about women in the workforce, the challenges they face and legislative victories they’ve won over the years. However, even well informed authors, pundits and scholars do not always recognize that working women of color often have a different experience than “women” as a whole.

The wage gap affects women of color to different degrees, but almost all face serious wage losses over the course of their career

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that women of color will become the majority of women in the United States by 2045. Even though women currently make up nearly half the labor force, there are persistent wage and economic disparities among all working women. For many women of color and their families, these disparities are more severe. For example, last year Hispanic women and Latinas made only 59 percent of white men’s wages – a discrepancy that adds up to more than $850,000 over the course of a career.

Despite the fact that educational attainment for women has encouragingly risen at every level, with women outpacing men in most cases, not all women enjoy the same pay advantage that comes with higher education. For example, last year the median income for all women with a bachelor’s degree was $931 per week. However, black women with that degree only saw $846 of that, and Hispanic women at the same level only brought home $818.

And although statistics about the persistent gender wage gap show that it is slowly narrowing, this small gain has not been shared equally among all women.

The Women’s Bureau is committed to reducing barriers that inhibit or prevent women from getting and keeping better jobs. To raise awareness about the uphill battle that many women of color face when trying to support themselves and their families, we recently published eight fact sheets about the economic status of women of color. They provide a snapshot of the current racial and ethnic disparities occurring in wages, unemployment and educational attainment, and  the interconnected effects of these factors on the larger populations of working women of color.

I encourage you to take a look at the fact sheets and learn more about these important issues. As more women of color become part of the workforce, the challenges they face will have a major impact on their families, communities, and ultimately, the economy as whole. It’s imperative that we are aware of these problems now so that we can overcome them moving forward.

Latifa Lyles is acting director of the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau.


Comments (4)

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  1. Evan says:

    Women of color have unique challenges in American society. They face a culture which disparages them and devalues them on two fronts – their gender and their race. Even within mainstream movements to help women, women of color are often ignored.

    All these factors combine to make WoC more likely to be in poverty, more likely to have unintended pregnancies, and all kinds of other issues.

    I applaud the Department of Labor for recognizing that women of color face unique and extremely difficult challenges, and for working to help remedy some of them.

  2. Elsa J Hernandez says:

    Hispanic women can’t be considered women of color because we go from very white color of skin to very dark color of skin. Hispanic is not a race, it is an ethnicity. You can be european and be very dark like the people in the frontier of Spain and France, the Romanians is another example. I am of white complexion and blonde. I have an accent but if I don’t open my mouth people think I am born in USA. So, there are the accents which make a person earn less; people judge you by how you speak. I am a disabled translator without a job currently only because I have an accent and because I have dysarthria. Judging from the quality of my work, I do a pretty good job translating from Spanish into English, Italian into English and French into English. can also interpret back and forth between Spanish and English. I have worked with the Department of Public health, the Women’s Center, the Department of Rehabilitation , the Khan academy, Doctors without Borders, Save the Children, USAID and many other companies employing my skills of translator and interpreter. The minute someone hear my Spanish accent they don’t want to employ me. I am understandable and I have good grammar. Most important, not everybody can do translations. I have been doing this since I was 16 years of age, in my native Colombia translating for American companies and I still do translate the websites of South American companies . My salary was good and I am looking now for a part-time job. I can work from home or I can work in stores or any place where my bilingual skills are of use. I have worked with many companies in the USA and I have many letters of recommendation I can submit. I also worked out of the country as a Administrative Assistant for a project financed by USAID , I was the translating and the interpret person at this company, translating back and forth from English into Spanish. I wish at this moment to know who did the translation of the Obama
    care into Spanish. Obama care site is confusing in English and the Spanish site has so many grammar errors most of the Hispanics will not be able to understand or comprehend what is written in there. It is very difficult to log in the site. I wonder if there was a purpose to translate the site into Spanish when not even I can enter in there and I am computer savvy.
    I want to work. I have the skills and the knowledge. It does not have to be a bilingual job. I worked for the Secretary of State in a non-bilingual position. I can work with a Federal agency or a private company. I have health benefits. I don’t need health benefits from a company to work. I want to work, I want to help others.

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  4. I totally agree with Elsa, Latinos are an ethnic group, not a race

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