New research suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic will likely hurt what little pay gap progress we’ve made. (Credit: Nenad Stojkovic, Flickr)

As if the ongoing pandemic hasn’t taken enough from us.

This year, Equal Pay Day – which recognizes how far into the next year a woman, on average, must work in order to make what a man did in the previous calendar year – falls on March 15. (Well, it happens later in the year for women of color – it falls in May for Asian-American women, in September for Black women, in November for Native American women and in December for Latina women.) 

Last year, the date was March 24, so it may seem like we’re moving in the right direction. But new research from the National Women’s Law Center suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic, and its disproportionate impacts on women’s careers, will ultimately slow – perhaps even reverse – what little progress we’ve made over the years in closing the gap.

When comparing all working women to all working men in 2020, regardless of the types of jobs those individuals held, experts at the center found that women were paid, on average, 73 cents to every man’s dollar, CBS News reports. 

And when broken down by race, one can see that the problem continues to be far worse for women of color. White women made 79 cents for every dollar a white man did, while Asian-American women made 75 cents, Black women made 64 cents, and Latina and Native American women made 57 cents.

“It really does add up, and so we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars a year,” center director Jasmine Tucker told CBS.

Part of the problem is lack of job recovery for women in the United States. While men workers have largely recovered the jobs lost after February 2020, over 1.8 million women have not. “When you take time out of the labor force, it’s hard to come back in at the same level that you left, and because you’ve been out for so long you might be willing to accept a job that’s lower than when you left or with lower wages, and that’s going to follow you around,” Tucker explained to CBS News. 

As such, we need “measures that are going to keep women attached to the labor force,” she added, ranging from affordable childcare options to banning employers from collecting prior salary information from job applicants.