Mothers make just 75 cents for each dollar fathers make, and it means a mom would have to work til May 5 to earn what a dad made last year

Mother working from home
According to the National Women’s Law Center, mothers make 75 cents for every dollar fathers make. blackCAT/Getty Images
  • Just a few days before Mother’s Day is this year’s Equal Pay Day for mothers.
  • May 5 marks how many extra days into 2021 mothers had to work to earn what fathers made in 2020.
  • Mothers make 75 cents for every dollar fathers make, per NWLC’s analysis of 2019 data.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

May 5 marks equal pay day for mothers, according to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

This means it would take about four months into 2021, or 125 extra days, for mothers to earn what fathers earned in just 2020.

The overall wage gap between men and women is smaller than the wage gap between mothers and fathers. Women make about 82 cents for every dollar men make, while mothers make 75 cents for every dollar fathers make, according to NWLC’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data on median earnings for full-time, year-round workers in 2019. That means mothers lose $15,300 annually because of the pay gap.

Jasmine Tucker, the director of research at the National Women’s Law Center, told Insider that the pay gap is larger for mothers because “moms tend to make a little bit less than women overall, and dads tend to make a little bit more than men overall.”

This year’s equal pay day for mothers falls around a month earlier than last year’s day on June 4. Tucker said this is because mother’s earnings increased in 2019, the year used to determine this year’s equal pay day for mothers. Father’s earnings, however, didn’t really change from the previous year.

“2019 was a good year for women, a good year for moms, in terms of wages, lower poverty, low unemployment. But, unfortunately, 2020 happened and is probably going to wipe out all of those gains that we saw them making,” Tucker said.

The pay gap also varies by race and ethnicity and by occupation

The pandemic has been especially hard for women. Overall, 1.8 million women who are at least 20 years old have left the labor force since February 2020.

Tucker said she believes “women are going to be more likely to come back to labor force at a lower level than they left it, which is going to widen the gap later.” Tucker added mothers may likely take the first job they can get once they re-enter the workforce instead of waiting for a higher-paying job or for the position they actually want.

“Any job, any income is essential right now,” Tucker said. “Moms are more likely to be breadwinners than ever before and especially moms of color. So their earnings are really important to the whole household.”

Women have also been working on the frontlines of the pandemic, from healthcare workers to grocery store workers. Even in frontline occupations, the pay gap exists.

“Nearly one in five (19.6%) janitors, building cleaners, maids, and housekeepers are mothers (and 75.9% of those mothers are women of color), and they are paid only 65 cents for every dollar paid to their counterparts who are fathers,” NWLC wrote in its analysis while looking at some of the workers who have been on the frontlines.

NWLC’s analysis shows that the pay gap for mothers further varies by race and ethnicity. Compared to every dollar non-Hispanic white fathers make, the 2019 data shows Latina mothers make 46 cents, 50 cents for Native American mothers, 52 cents for Black mothers, 71 cents for non-Hispanic white mothers, and 90 cents for Asian American and Pacific Islander mothers.

This pay gap can add up in the long run, where mothers are losing out on thousands of dollars a year. Latina mothers, who have the largest pay gap among races and ethnicities, lose $38,000 a year.

Tucker said as the US starts to open up and some mothers think about going back to work, the US has to think about ways to reopen in a more equitable way than what existed before the pandemic. This includes improving childcare, ensuring workers have the opportunity to unionize (since the pay gap is smaller in unionized workplaces), and enacting policies like the Paycheck Fairness Act.