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Pay equity

New research shows that some women earn as little as half of their male counterparts

By WITW Staff on April 5, 2017

Tuesday marked Equal Pay Day — a day created to draw attention to the roughly 20 percent wage gap between men and women by signifying how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

Illuminating the continued prevalence of the wage gap across the U.S., a new report was released this week by the National Partnership for Women and Families, shedding light on how the wage gap differs from state to state and which group of women fare worst. Unsurprisingly, it finds that this wage disparity is worst for black and Latina women, who are disproportionately affected when compared to their white, male counterparts. In Louisiana, where the pay disparity for black women is highest, they earn as little as 48 cents on the dollar.

The analysis uses census data and compares pay for year-round, full-time women and men. It shows that the gender-wage gap exists in every state and amounts to an annual gap of $10,470, with women on the median income earning around $40,742 while their male counterparts earn $51,212. This equates to almost half a million dollars over the course of a woman’s career.

While the report found that the wage-gap is worst in Wyoming, where women earn just 64 cents for every dollar paid to men — that is $19,901 a year and almost twice the wage gap faced by women in 17 other states — New York and Delaware show some signs of improvement. In both states women earn 89 cents on the dollar.

Although the research shows that there are zero states in which women earn 90 cents or more to the dollar, there may still be cause for hope. Since 2016 over 180 bills have been introduced by state lawmakers aimed at addressing the wage gap. So far, seven of these have been enacted and dozens are pending. And it is not only progressive states like California that are taking active steps to address pay disparity, but Republican states too, including Louisiana, North Dakota and Utah — all of which are on the sharper end of the wage disparity scale — that are all advancing such legislation.

There is good reason for them doing so. Putting aside the injustice of women earning, on average, 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man, there is a strong economic argument for addressing the wage gap. According to The Council of Economic Advisers, the U.S. economy is as much as $2 trillion bigger now than it would have been had women’s role in the workplace not increased since 1970. By achieving wage parity the U.S., GDP could add yet another $2.1 trillion, says a report from the McKinsey Global Institute. It is not then just women who stand to benefit from better pay parity, but the country as a whole. If for no other reason than that, let’s hope state legislatures will continue to lead the way on protecting women in the workplace so that by next April 4 there will be greater cause for celebration.

Read the full story at NBC News and The Huffington Post.


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