All women earn less than men, making 79 cents for every dollar men are paid, the study said. But the wages are 19 cents lower for black women compared to white, non-Hispanic men across all income levels and occupations.
This amounts to a loss of $30,790 a year for a black woman employed in New Jersey. Over a 40-year career, that adds up to a discrepancy of $1,231,600 in income, according to the study. The average black woman earns $42,761 a year, according to the study based on 2014 income data not adjusted for inflation.
"African American women in New Jersey shouldn't need to work almost 69 years to earn what a white man earns in 40 years," said Emily Martin, the center's vice president. "If we don't act now to ensure equal pay, for many women of color, the cost of the lifetime wage gap will surpass a million dollars. We literally can't afford to ignore this."
The wide wage disparities stretched across low-income to high-income jobs, according to the study. Female black surgeons earned 52 cents for every dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic male, while female home health aides earned 85 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.
"In addition to wage gaps within occupations, African-American women are overrepresented in the most poorly paid jobs in the nation," according to the report.
"African American women's share of the low-wage workforce (10.7 percent) is much higher than their share of the overall workforce (6.1 percent). Even in these low-wage occupations that typically pay $10.50 per hour or less, African-American women working full time, year round experience a wage gap, making only 74.5 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make."
Only the District of Columbia, at $1,595,200, has a higher lifetime wage gap for black women than New Jersey, according to the study.
The others in the top ten lifetime wage gaps for black women are:
Rhode Island $973,040;
The national average of income losses by black woman was $877,480.
The state Legislature has attempted to enact laws that would make it harder for employers to pay females less than males. Gov. Chris Christie has blocked the bills from enactment.
The most recent version of the bill allowed an employer to pay a different rate of compensation for employees as long as they demonstrated the discrepancy is based on reasons other than gender — including seniority, education and experience, or productivity.
The bill (A2750) would strengthen protections for women in the state's Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by making it illegal for employers to pay workers of different genders different rates for doing substantially similar work.