Thirty-four million women work in jobs officially classified as essential; and women represent the majority of workers in several occupations, including health care, education, personal care and sales and office occupations.

Because women make up a large portion of the essential workforce, they have played a critical role in the U.S. economy and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite women’s substantial presence in essential jobs, the disparity between total median earnings for women and men exists across occupations deemed essential.

Equal Pay Day — timed to represent how far into the year women must work to equal what men earned the previous year — is on March 24 this year. That’s earlier than it’s ever been since its inception in 1996. Last year, it occurred on March 31.

In 2019, women earned 82 cents to every dollar earned by men. In addition to Women’s History Month, it is an important reminder that the gender pay gap is narrowing but continues.

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