US Women Miss Out on $627 Billion by Not Getting Paid for Caregiving

An analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data underscores why it’ll take so long to close the gender wage gap. 

(Bloomberg) — If women in the US got paid for their caregiving work, they would make an additional $627 billion per year, according to a new analysis.

Women average about 52 minutes per day caring for children and other family members, including those outside the home, while men spend about 26 minutes a day on care, an analysis published Monday by the National Partnership for Women & Families, a working families research and advocacy group, shows. Assuming they’d earn the mean wage of $14.55 per hour for child-care workers or home health aides, women would each bring in an extra $4,600 annually if their caregiving work was compensated, while men would receive about $2,300.

The report comes the day before Moms’ Equal Pay Day — which marks how long into 2023 the average US mother had to work to make what a dad did in 2022 — and highlights how caregiving sets women back financially. Working mothers typically earn less than their male counterparts even when they’re breadwinners, while women caring for other family members are also more likely to have to face career setbacks like scaling back their hours or taking a leave of absence from work. The disadvantages add up to a wage gap that has cost female American workers $61 trillion since 1967, and is set to last until at least 2056 at the current rate of progress of efforts to achieve equal pay.

“Men and women are both doing a lot, but we wanted to show this gap: women are doing more care and women are more likely to be caregivers,” said Katherine Gallagher Robbins, senior fellow at NPWF and one of the authors of the report, which examined 2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics data. “Care is something people do out of love. But that doesn’t mean it’s not costly.”

A recent analysis of 20 years of 800,000 earnings reports shows that regardless of pay or education, all moms get hit with the so-called motherhood penalty. On average, they lose out on about $8,000 a year with the birth of their first child, while dads’ incomes don’t take a meaningful hit. Wage disparities are also worse for mothers of color and single parents.

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