The “Double Gap” and the Bottom Line: African American Women’s Wage Gap and Corporate Profits
March 31, 2020
By Michelle Holder
Over the last several decades, a rise in worker productivity and flat wages have driven record-high corporate profits in the US. As the private, for-profit sector benefited, economic insecurity has increased and wage gaps persist. This is especially true for Black women, who face both the gender wage gap and the racial wage gap—a reinforcing confluence that Michelle Holder, an assistant professor of economics at John Jay College, has termed the “double gap.”
Building on prior research, Holder attempts to quantify Black women’s productive capacities in The “Double Gap” and the Bottom Line: African American Women’s Wage Gap and Corporate Profits. Based on three quantitative methodologies, she estimates that Black women lost approximately $50 billion in involuntarily forfeited wages in the US in 2017 alone. These findings suggest that Black women’s labor power is largely undercompensated by employers, with tangible implications for income and asset-building in the Black community—as well as significant cost savings, in tens of billions of dollars annually, for the private, for-profit sector.