Can my fellow urbanists be just as outraged by the LA wage disparity between male and female city workers as they are about Robert Reich?

Robert Reich is acting like a rich suburban white guy, and while his conduct is bad and I’m all for calling it out, I’m missing the discussion on Twitter and Facebook about this report from David Wagner at the LAist.

Dealing with worn and inflexible gender categories aside, the report shows that the gender wage gap in LA is bigger than in any other major city in the US, and I think I should probably dig up the entire audit if I can find it. I am wondering how much of this disparity comes down to our the police budget (it’s huge) Of the top 100 earners, only 2 are women.

Now, why should or would urbanists care about wage inequality when we have Robert Reich to kick around?

The outrage directed at Reich is a response his buttheaded opposition to what is in reality a pretty small development that includes some housing for extremely low-income people. I’ve looked at it; the proposal isn’t a bad development proposal by any stretch. Whether he knows it or not, Reich is contributing the poverty and labor issues he’s built a luminary academic and political career on. I pointed out yesterday on Twitter that while YIMBYs have made the connections between place-hoarding and poverty, it’s still a huge gap in the thinking of most people and the major political parties (although the Sanders campaign got right up next to it; hopefully that will live on.)

So, Lisa, why are you busting into this conversation to make it your GENDER PARITY STUFF HUH? Way to make it ALL ABOUT YOU, lady. (You’d be dead shocked at how often I hear this when I bring up gender oppression.) I mean, people are going without housing because of Reich. Why distract from this very important housing argument?

Well, it turns out gender wage disparities have a lot to do with poverty which has a lot to do with struggles for housing, and the privileges enjoyed by the Robert Reichs of this world are mirrored systematically in the disadvantages faced by women in the workforce. Ever-rising house prices due to scarcity from chronic undersupply is one problem, but its demand-side counterpart is wage theft, stagnation, and poverty.

And when we talk about poverty, we are talking about women; the wage gap is far worse than the average for Black and Latino women than it is for white women or the average when they are all put together. That is one reason why I want to see the full audit. I’m not sure if California allows those numbers by race to be reported, but if we did report them, we have every reason to believe, based on priors, that LA pay gap for Black and Latinx women working for LA is bad, indeed. The aggregate numbers reported here for LA are worse than the gap estimated globally by the International Labor Organization. In the US, the National Partnership for Women and Families reports the following breakdown of the wage gap by race, relative to white men:

  • Asian women make 90 cents for every dollar
  • White women make 79 cents
  • Black women make 62 cents
  • Native women make 57 cents; and
  • Latina women make 54 cents

Given how many city workers in LA are likely Latinx, this prior is not good news. They get a double dose of low wages and housing discrimination.

When you read through books liked Evicted, you see women struggling with health and ableism as part of poverty as well.

Economists with the Institute of Women’s Policy Research find that eliminating the gender wage gap could HALVE the poverty rate of working women.

If Robert Reich should be a better leader (and he should), so should the City of LA. Not cool.