It's great to be a woman in California, unless you're Hispanic

Wage-gap calculations by the Center for American Progress based on data from the U.S.Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey

/Wage-gap calculations by the Center for American Progress based on data from the U.S.Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey

Here's a conundrum.

The Golden State ranks as the second best place for a woman to achieve economic security, according to 14 key measures. That's according to a study from the Center for American Progress.

Paid family leave? Check!
Great early childhood education? Check!
Paid sick leave? Check!

However Hispanic women in the state only make 44 cents to every dollar a white man makes. That makes the 6.6 million women, or 17 percent of the entire state of California, the lowest paid population, of any race, in any state.

Let me say that again.

Hispanic women, in a state where the number of Latinos is poised to surpass non-Hispanic whites this March, are on average earning the lowest amount of any women, anywhere, in the United States.

The pay disparity is especially ironic in California, where women as a whole make amongst the highest wage nationwide at 84 cents to every white man's dollar. The national average for women is 77 cents.

So what's going on?

Anna Chu, the researcher who conducted the study, says part of it has to do with the types of jobs they are working. "A lot of times we find that many women of color are not working in high paying industries."

In fact, two of the top three industries women in California work in are social services and retail, areas not exactly known for their lucrative earnings potential.

Another factor, though, has everything to do with legal status. In California, 33 percent of Hispanic women are not U.S. citizens, according to Census data. "This suggests we may have women working in the shadows," says Chu. In other words, there is a large amount of women that have to work at any pay rate they are offered because they are undocumented.

So while California may score an A grade as a top-notch place for a woman in the U.S. to live and work, that's not necessarily the reality for everyone.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

 

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