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Women and People of Color Lose Thousands Because of Pay Gap

A recent analysis found that women lost $46 billion and that people of color lost $61 billion in California during 2020 due to the gender and race pay gaps. California has the second smallest gender pay gap in the nation.

(TNS) — California women and people of color are still getting paid substantially less than white men despite new state laws and policies designed to promote equal wages, according to recent analyses of data.

On average, full-time female workers in California earned 87.6 percent of what full-time male workers earned in 2020, according to a report released earlier this month by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Another analysis from the human resources firm Trusaic found that California women in 2020 lost $46 billion due to the gender pay gap and that people of color in the state lost $61 billion due to the race pay gap.

Trusaic looked at wage data of 14,000 workers in California — made available due to a state law passed last year — and extrapolated its findings to the state's entire workforce.

"Key issues are white men concentrated in the best jobs and Latinas and Black women are concentrated in the worst jobs," said Ariane Hegewisch, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Women's Policy Research. "Even though there are a lot of white women and white men who may earn low wages, proportionately, they're much more likely to be in the highest-earning jobs."

Trusaic's analysis found that in the professional and technical industry, which includes jobs such as accountants and analysts, a female worker made $7,800 less than a male employee. A person of color made $10,200 less than a white worker, according to the analysis.

Manufacturing also had a big gender and race pay gap, with a female worker making $7,000 less than a male worker and a person of color earning $7,300 less than a white worker, according to the analysis.

The data comes from a law passed in 2020 that requires bigger companies to provide the Department of Fair Employment and Housing information about how much their workers are paid, broken down by race, ethnicity, gender and job categories. Trusaic aggregated the data for its own analysis as it helped prepare companies to comply with the law, said Mark Dwyer, the vice president of data science at the firm.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is also analyzing the data and expecting to publish its findings, the agency said in a statement.

Individual companies are not identified in the data. The law allows agencies to publish reports based on the figures aggregated from multiple employers. The law also allows agencies to use the data to investigate discriminatory pay practices at a company.

"If your data has inherent pay disparities, unexplained pay gaps, you have a real problem. You should be looking at your data," said Matt Gotchy, vice president of marketing at Trusaic. "This isn't a box-checking exercise."

The state has developed a series of training exercises to educate workers on California's equal pay laws, such as a law that requires women to be paid the same for doing "substantially similar" work as men, said Holly Martinez, the interim executive director at the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls which promotes gender equality.

California's gender pay gap in 2020 was the second smallest in the nation after Connecticut. The state narrowed its gender pay gap by more than 5 percent points since 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Latina women on average earned just 41.8 percent of what white men made in California. Black women on average earned just 58.7 percent of what white men made in the state, according to analyses of recent U.S. Census data by the Institute of Women's Policy Research. Those figures put California in the bottom half of the states, Hegewisch said.

With the pandemic pushing many women out of the workforce as they had struggled to find childcare, situations for female workers in California could look worse going forward, Martinez said.

"COVID threw a wrench into a lot of potential progress that's made. Women actually left the workforce in droves and data shows they are not returning," Martinez said. "Not only do we have work to do to ensure we lower the wage gap, but we also have a lot of work to do to get women back into the workforce."

©2021 The Sacramento Bee. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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