Tomorrow is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. This day recognizes that Black women in the United States have to work from the start of January 2020 through August 2, 2021 to earn as much as White men earned in 2020 alone. This fundamental fault line in the U.S. labor market is due to centuries of structural racism—the skeins of which remain glaringly evident today.

In this column, we look at what recent data-driven research tells policymakers and the U.S. public about this persistent income inequality. The scholars behind this body of research include Michelle Holder, the incoming president and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, several other leading women economists such as associate professor of economics at Bucknell University Nina Banks, and Equitable Growth Research Advisory Board member William Darity, Jr., as well as Equitable Growth grantee Darrick Hamilton.

Michelle Holder, Janelle Jones, and Thomas Masterson, “The Early Impact of COVID-19 on Job Losses among Black Women in the United States” (2021)

Research by Michelle Holder, along with Janelle Jones, the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, and Thomas Masterson, research scholar and director of applied micromodeling at the Levy Institute of Bard College, explores how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Black women’s employment. The authors propose that Black women disproportionately lost jobs at the onset of the pandemic due to their strong attachment to the U.S. workforce, their overrepresentation in industries that were hit hard during the early months of the health and economic crises, and their overrepresentation in low-wage jobs such as the cashier occupation. Holder, Jones, and Masterson then put forward a pandemic-recovery policy agenda, which includes providing direct cash assistance and income support programs such as expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and increased Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Read the full article about research for Black Women’s Equal Pay Day at Equitable Growth.