This article was originally published on July 31, 2017. It has been updated to reflect 2018 data.
For every dollar a man makes, a black woman makes 63 cents.
On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, we take a look at the statistics and examine a few reasons why the pay gap exists. Black women earn less than Asian American and white women, but more than Native American and Latina women.
Black women often are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles, from government to private industries.
Salaries attached to people in executive positions are much higher, and people in positions of power make crucial decisions about hiring practices, workplace culture — including family leave policies — and who gets paid what. There are currently zero black women working as chief executives of Fortune 500 companies.
In Congress, women hold 107 seats, but only 20 are black or multiracial, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
At the state level, there are only six women governors. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams is currently running to become the nation’s first black female governor elected to office.
Historically, black women have had high labor force participation rates compared to other women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
But opportunity — and therefore career choice — affects pay. Although the number of black women in higher-paying professional occupations has increased over time, they are still more likely to work in service occupations than white, non-Hispanic women. In 2015, almost 28 percent of black women workd in service positions— which includes many hourly jobs in the food and health industries — compared to 17.4 percent of white women.
Women have also increasingly become the primary breadwinners for their families. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than four million family households in the United States are headed by black women. Of those households, nearly one in three live below poverty level.
Overall, women in the United States hold more debt from outstanding education loans than their male counterparts: They carry 64 percent of the nation’s student debt, amounting to around $833 billion, according to the American Association of University Women. Women also borrow about 14 percent more than men in a given year.
But, on average, black women take on more student debt than any other group of women. It also takes them longer to repay their loans, and, along with Latinas, they have the highest default rates.
The pay gap is one pervasive reason.