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Gender Pay Disparity is Particularly Stark for Women Retail Workers and Women of Color

New York, NY—Today is Equal Pay Day, which marks how much longer women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. In the new Demos brief Making Retail Jobs Good Jobs for Women, Demos Senior Policy Analysts Catherine Ruetschlin and Robert Hiltonsmith find that while women earn less than men across nearly every occupation and industry, the gender pay gap in retail is particularly stark.

Among full-time retail salespersons, women earn just 68 cents for every dollar earned by a man performing the same job; in comparison, across all occupations, full-time female workers earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by full-time male workers. That means that a female retail salesperson must work nearly an additional six months in order to catch up to what a man earns in one year.  Furthermore, more than 1.3 million women working in the retail industry live in or near poverty (earning 150 percent or less of the federal poverty level).

And in her upcoming book Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over, Demos Senior Fellow Caroline Frederickson explains that the gender pay disparity is also particularly stark for women of color: Black women make only 71 percent of what all men make, Hispanic women 62 percent, white women 82 percent, and Asian women 95 percent.

In the book, out May 5th, Frederickson uses a legal lens to look at how the proliferation of low-wage jobs has disproportionately affected women, who are a huge and fast growing part of the workforce. She details how they are legally denied minimum wage, maternity leave, health care, the right to unionize, and protection from harassment and discrimination. And she makes the case that if we allow these trends to continue, this sobering trajectory will be the fate of all U.S. workers.

To speak with a Demos expert, please contact:

Donté Donald
Senior Communications Manager
[email protected]