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On Equal Pay Day, concern over Latina wage gap

It is Equal Pay Day today, but equal pay is far from the case for the nation’s women, especially Hispanic and African-American women, according to recent reports as well as Labor Department figures.

“Nationally, women who hold full-time jobs are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men who hold full-time jobs,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, which conducted an analysis using U.S. Census data, showing the persistence of a gender wage in the nation’s top 50 metro areas.  “African-American women and Latinas fare worse, being paid 64 cents and just 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men,” added Ness.

And as more Latinas pursue higher education and struggle with its high costs, a recently-published NerdScholar study found wage disparities are not just found in lower paying jobs, but in fact are especially pronounced in the fields which require the most education.

“These are occupations like chief executives, financial managers, and personal financial advisors to name a few,” says NerdScholar analyst Rachel Ny. “Latinas still graduate to a very high pay gap,” Ny says.

Former Labor Department chief economist and Georgetown University professor Adriana Kugler says these reports point to the fact that wage disparities are no longer due to women having less education or experience than their male colleagues.

“Some of the stumbling blocks for women are not coming from the fact they are not engaging in the workforce, but they are coming from the workplace itself,” says the Latina economist.  Kugler, who worked at the Labor Department under Labor Secretary Hilda Solís, found a Hispanic woman lost an average of $800,00 over the course of a lifetime due to gender wage disparities.

RELATED: New figures show Latinas hit hard by the wage gap 

Democratic Latino legislators like New Mexico Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, who gave her first speech in Congress on the topic, as well as California Congressman Xavier Becerra have come out  in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would establish stronger workplace protections for women and would close loopholes on the Equal Pay Act.

“We urge Congress to prioritize passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act — it is past time to make gender-based pay discrimination a thing of the past,” said National Partnership for Women and Families’ Debra Ness.

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