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Study: Black women make 57% less than white men in Michigan, state ranks 22nd nationally

By: - July 28, 2023 4:54 am

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New data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) released Tuesday shows the intersection of gender and race continues to influence pay gaps between Black women and white men nationwide.

The study, which examined each state’s pay disparities through the lenses of full-time, part-time and year round workers, found that the national median pay for Black women is 63.7 cents to every dollar earned by a white man. 

Robyn Watson Ellerbe, IWPR’s chief strategy officer, said in a statement that the findings of the study illustrate how prevalent gender pay disparity still is in the U.S., and that non-white women bear the brunt of the inequity. 

“The gender wage gap is a national disgrace and women of color feel the burden of that discrimination more than most,” Watson Ellerbe said. “It is an injustice women — and women of color in particular — have had to endure year after year.”

Michigan’s median stacks up against the national figure, but only marginally – Black female Michiganders make 57% less than their white male counterparts, losing over $20,000 a year in wages and making the state a middle-of-the-pack 22nd in the country for gender pay disparity.

Pay gap for Black women | IWPR graphic

The highest and lowest median gaps can be found in Louisiana and Hawaii, measuring at 43 cents and 72 cents, respectively. The EWPR estimates that it would take over a century to balance out the pay disparities in every state, until 2144. 

The IWPR, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization dedicated to shaping policy to improve the lives of American women, stated in the study that the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the already considerable issue of pay inequity nationwide. 

According to the study, policy solutions needed to address gendered and racial pay gaps include codifying better pay and benefits, organization through labor unions, further enforcement to prevent harassment and discrimination and widening access to fields of work where Black women are currently underrepresented.

Watson Ellerbe said that the persistent pay disparity harms Black women and impacts every area of their lives, from health and well-being to their ability to partake in the American economy. 

“We cannot ask women in this country to endure this injustice decade after decade,” Watson Ellerby said. “We know what needs to be done; we just need policymakers and leaders in the business community with the courage to stand up and do it.”


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Lily Guiney
Lily Guiney

Lily is a contributor to the Michigan Advance and a former reporting intern. Her coverage areas included state government and politics, including abortion rights and gun violence prevention issues.