Despite the American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) women making strides in social, economic and political spheres, they are still the lesser paid ones in the United States. When working all year round, the AIAN women are paid just 59.7 cents for every dollar paid to White non-Hispanic men, according to a new report of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). .
In the report, the IWPR said that the annual earnings for AIAM women who worked full-time, year round leave a family with one adult and two children in near poverty. The IWPR said that these women in 14 states earned at least 20,000 dollars less for a year of full time work than White men in 2019.
The report maintains that COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. The overall inequalities faced by AIAN women have widened. Moreover, they live in poor quality and overcrowded housing facilities and also lack access to quality health care, nutrition and sometimes even basic access to running water.
The report stated that more than six in ten (60.9 per cent) AIAN women having children less than six years of age are active in the labour force. It noted that single mother breadwinners account to about 36.9 percent and married mother breadwinners to 27.2 percent.
The report pointed out that these women faced a wage gap with their White male counterpart in 30 states where earnings data were available.
- AIAN women in Nebraska had the lowest median earnings for a year of full-time work at 26,000 dollars, which was half of White men’s median earnings
- There was 48.2 percent of gap in New Mexico, 46.5 percent in California.
- Native American and Alaska Native women’s median annual earnings for full-time work were above 40,000 dollars in Alaska, Alabama, California, Colorado, New York, and Virginia.
- Alabama has the smallest wage gap for Native American and Alaska Native women compared with their White male counterpart
Low Earnings and Factors associated with it
- Concentration in low-waged occupations: Low earnings reflect their concentration in low-wage jobs such as Cashiers, Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners, Nursing, Psychiatric and Home Health Aides, Only two of the ten most common occupations for AIAN women —Elementary and Middle School Teachers and Registered Nurses — have median annual earnings above 200 percent of the poverty threshold.
- Lower union coverage: AIAN women are only about half as likely as other women to be covered by a union contract. Union coverage is less likely in low wage occupations. Work in low-wage occupations also means less access to health insurance, paid leave, or pension plans.
- Education: AIAN women with at least a four-year college degree have earnings that are 50,809 dollars, compared with White men’s 84,681 dollars, a gender wage gap of 40 percent.
- Unemployment and lack of access to full-time work: The rate of unemployment for AIAN women was twice as high as the rate for all women in 2016-2018. Among AIAN women who are working, 71.9 percent work full time. Economic opportunities are particularly restricted for AIAN women living on reservations.
- Interpersonal violence: More than four in five Native women report to have experienced stalking, sexual and intimate partner violence in some form over their lifetime with more than one half reporting some form of physical violence. Exposure to violence makes it more difficult to maintain employment and seek good jobs, while low earnings in turn make it much harder to leave abusive relationships.