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Economics in Brief: Pay Gap Among Black Women Is Even Evident Among Our Essential Workers

Also: National Labor Relations Board finds that Amazon interfered with union election and more. 

black female essential worker

(vichie81/iStock Photo)

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Pay Gap Among Black Women Is Even Evident Among Our Essential Workers

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day — the date in 2021 the average Black woman has to work for to reach the earnings of non-Hispanic white man in 2020 — arrived on August 3 this year. This year, it means that Black women would have to work for an additional 214 days.

The Economic Policy Institute reports that even Black women who are essential workers face a pay gap of about 11% to 27% less than white men. Black female nurses, for instance, earn about $28.47/hour while non-Hispanic white men earn $34.87/hour for the same job.

The study adds that occupational segregation often limits the access Black women have to higher-paying jobs, and that the pandemic saw a disproportionate share of women, especially Black women, become unemployed. 18.3% of Black female workers lost their jobs compared to 13.2% of white men.

The U.S. also does not have a national paid leave policy, which often interferes with women’s careers and earnings history. Researchers thus conclude that on average women will enter the workforce with a pay gap they won’t be able to close.

National Labor Relations Board Calls for New Election After Amazon Interferes with Union Vote

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has called for a new election after it determined that Amazon interfered with the vote to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

NBC News reports that nearly 1,800 Alabama warehouse workers voted against joining the union, though representatives of the union say that Amazon illegally interfered and intimidated workers from voting for the initiative.

Organizers in Bessemer cited tactics such as “hanging signs over toilets in bathroom stalls, conducting mandatory meetings about the downsides of joining a union and hiring people to walk around the warehouse to talk to workers about why they should not join,” as proof of the corporation’s interference.

Amazon also arranged for the voting to be done in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox that was installed in a fulfillment center parking lot, despite the NLRB not allowing this. This, the union claims, made workers believe that the retail giant had access to the ballots cast and were watching workers cast their vote.

Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti wrote to NBC News in an email claiming that the corporation would contest the NLRB’s decision.

“Our employees had a chance to be heard during a noisy time when all types of voices were weighing into the national debate, and at the end of the day, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company,” Boschetti wrote.

The Smallest of Small Businesses Struggle to Stay Afloat in the Pandemic

A survey of small businesses by the Federal Reserve’s small-business research arm found that nonemployer firms — businesses with no employees except for the owner — saw larger declines in revenue than employer firms.

With nonemployer firms making up 81% of all American small businesses, the majority of which are women and/or POC-owned, understanding the impact the pandemic had on these businesses is critical to finding out how the sector fared.

The study reported that nonemployer firms were less likely than employer firms to access COVID-19 related assistance, forcing many to turn to personal funds during periods of hardship. The firms that did apply for emergency funding were less likely than employer firms to obtain the amount they originally sought.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter.

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Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2021. Burga graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in political science and journalism in May of 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate the voices of underrepresented communities in her work.

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Tags: small businessunionseconomic equity

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