Yesterday, the N.C. Budget & Tax Center released new data
on the gender wage gap in North Carolina—throwing more cold water on former governor Pat McCrory and the General Assembly’s much-touted “Carolina Comeback.”
The data provides a statewide breakdown of North Carolina’s gender wage gap by race and ethnicity, outlining pay data for black women, white women, Asian-American women, Native American women, and Latinas.
The results? Not great. Although women in the state already make less on average than their male counterparts (collecting 86 cents for every dollar that men make), women of color earn considerably less. Black women, for instance, net just 64 cents to the dollar. For Native American women, 58 cents. And Latinas in the state fare even more poorly: they claim just 48 cents for every dollar that men in the state gain.
Those averages stay fairly consistent at the county level, with a few notable exceptions. Durham County has the smallest overall wage gap—white women earn about 97 for every dollar that men make, But again, women of color don’t claim the same gains. Black women earn about 73 cents for every man’s dollar (still better than the state average), while Latinas earn just 41 cents to the dollar (less than the state average). Wake County, meanwhile, is below on all counts: 75 cents for white women, 57 cents for black women, and 40 cents for Latinas. And Alleghany County, in the northwest part of the state, has the most dismal statistic of all: there, according to the BTC, Latinas there earn a mere 11 cents to the dollar.
These discrepancies add up. If the wage gap were eliminated, the BTC estimates, women would make about $6,000 a year more on average. That could mean a year’s worth of groceries, five months of utilities payments, or almost eight months of rent. Those would not be minor gains for the more than half-million North Carolina families
in which women are the primary breadwinners, or the one in four children in the state living in poverty.
The wage gap persists as female Tar Heels are weighed down by other economic and social burdens. North Carolina has been named the eleventh-most expensive state
for child care in the country—so costly, in fact, that a year of child care for an infant in the state is more costly than a year of college tuition at a public university. And, to add insult to injury, North Carolina (like many states in the country) doesn’t have a law guaranteeing paid family and medical leave
. It also doesn’t require employers to provide accommodations for pregnant or nursing women
These factors, among others, help make North Carolina one of the least gender-equal states in the country
, according to a recent report that evaluated pay disparity, percentage of employees in executive positions, number of minimum wage workers, graduation rates, and more. In fact, North Carolina was ranked thirty-sixth out of fifty states for women’s equality.
Take a look at the data here: