National Partnership for Women & Families

‘Modest Yet Meaningful’ Progress on Fair Pay and Health Coverage, New Census Data Show, But Racial Disparities Persist and Threats Loom

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — September 12, 2017 —

“The new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today confirm that women and families across the country are benefiting from significant recent policy gains, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), state and local minimum wage increases, efforts to combat pay discrimination, and more. For example, the data show that 89.4 percent of adult women (ages 18-64) now have health insurance coverage, mostly through their employers, Medicaid or the health insurance marketplace – a historic high. The gender wage gap for all women has also improved slightly. Women who have full-time, year-round jobs are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men who do – an increase of less than one cent over last year. These modest yet meaningful improvements make a real difference for women and families and demonstrate the power of smart policies designed to stop discrimination and promote health and economic well-being.

But these data also reveal huge and unacceptable disparities in access to fair pay and health insurance. In particular, National Partnership analyses of the new data show that many women of color continue to be left far behind. Even though the new data reveal that women overall, and women of color, have higher rates of health coverage than they did last year, millions of women are still uninsured. Indeed, 19.6 percent of Latinas and 12.1 percent of Black women remain uninsured. Those rates compare to 8.1 percent of Asian women and 7.9 percent of white women who are now uninsured. The across-the-board increases in coverage are a clear sign that the ACA is working, but the continuing disparities are painful.

Latinas and Black women also continue to suffer from larger gender wage gaps than other women, and they have seen no progress at all since last year. Especially troubling is that the slight improvement in the gender wage gap for women overall can be attributed to gains for only some. Among those who work full time and year-round, Latinas are still paid just 54 cents and Black women just 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Yet white women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to white men – an increase of four cents since last year – and Asian women are paid 87 cents for every dollar paid to white men – an increase of nearly three cents. As our analysis shows, these gaps amount to the loss of thousands of dollars each year that could go toward years’ worth of food, college tuition or child care expenses.

These new data are a reminder of the impact of public policies on the health and economic well-being of women and families, especially women and communities of color. The Trump administration just blocked a fair pay initiative aimed at rooting out the pay discrimination that contributes to the gender and racial wage gaps that plague the country. The administration and congressional leaders are hell-bent on repealing or sabotaging the ACA. At the same time, the threat of draconian budget cuts to essential programs and services remains. This dangerous agenda takes direct aim at the progress reflected in these new data while threatening to make racial disparities even worse.

All members of Congress should take a close look at the data released today and recognize the real progress that has been made for some women and families, the work left to do, and the imperative to continue – not reverse – our progress. We need investments and policy advances that will continue to make our nation more healthy, fair and family friendly.”

The National Partnership’s analysis of the health insurance coverage data is available here and analysis of the gender wage gap and its effect on women’s spending power by race is available here.

Contact

Sadie Kliner (202) 986-2600 skliner@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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