National Equal Pay Day marks the disparity in pay between men and women in the United States. Equal Pay Day is not on a set date every year. Instead, the date is based on the wage gap itself. Based on data from 2021, women in the U.S. had to work an average of 74 extra days in the year to make the same amount men made. For that reason, Equal Pay Day fell on the 74th day of 2022, March 15.
March 15 is the earliest Equal Pay Day has ever been recognized since equal pay advocates began keeping track. Despite this achievement, women still face a huge pay gap compared to their male coworkers. According to the Institute for Women’s Police Research, women working year-round, full time jobs earned just 83 cents for every dollar their male coworkers earned. This data takes all occupations and job sectors into account. It represents the total earnings for all women. However, breaking down the data reveals even more disparity.
While white women made improvements and drove the total number earned up to 83 cents, women of color did not see increases in pay. In fact, the wage gap widened for Black and Hispanic women. According to the Center for American Progress, the largest wage gap has always existed between white men and Hispanic women. Hispanic women earn just 57 cents for every dollar a white man earns. Black women earn only 64 cents to the dollar. Native American women likewise earn only 60 cents to the dollar. Additionally, research into the effect of disabilities shows that disabled women made 80 cents for every dollar a disabled man makes.
The Biden Administration has recognized that work to close the pay gap still needs to be done. In a proclamation on March 14, 2022, President Biden affirmed his desire to end the wage gap completely. On March 15, 2022, the president signed an Executive Order on Advancing Economy, Efficiency, and Effectiveness in Federal Contracting by Promoting Pay Equity and Transparency. This Executive Order instructs the Director of Office Personnel Management to review federal regulations and determine whether they advance equal pay. The order specifically directs the Director to consider banning agencies from looking into a job applicant’s past or present pay history when making employment decisions. This is particularly important because women are systematically underpaid. If an employer can’t take underpaid salary history into account, then it can’t continue to lowball job applicants and reinforce a cycle of underpaid salaries.
We should all celebrate the progress by women and the efforts the government has made to ensure equal pay. However, as President Biden remarked, “we should not be satisfied until Equal Pay Day is no longer necessary at all.”