Shocking Study: Women Paid as Low as 64 Cents For Every Dollar Men Earn
American women are paid, on average, between 64 to 90 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to a new state-by-state analysis by the National Partnership for Women and Families that comes as Congress and the White House take steps to address the gender pay gap.
Across the nation, women who work full time earn on average 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, an annual wage gap of $11,607 that is especially relevant to more than 15 million US households led by women, the study found. A third of households led by women live in poverty.
The study, based on US Census data, analysed the gender pay gap and women's spending power in all 50 states. It also looked at race, which made the gender pay gap even greater. Nationally, African American women and Latinas are paid 64 cents and 54 cents to every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. They found that large disparities exist across the states.
The US Senate is due to vote this week on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, to make it more difficult for employers to discriminate and to establish stringent workplace protections for women.
President Barack Obama supports the bill and called on Congress to pass it in his State of the Union address in January. Obama is also taking executive action on Tuesday to combat pay discrimination, signing a largely symbolic order that would prevent federal contractors from penalising employees who discuss their pay.
“Unfair wages cause real and lasting harm to women, the families they support, and to our economy,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Woman and Families. “With women making up nearly half the workforce and serving as essential breadwinners in two-thirds of households, it’s time to finally put Mad Men-era wage policies in the past.”
The study found the states with the largest gender pay gap included Wyoming, Louisiana, West Virginia, Utah and Alabama. Among the states with the largest numbers of African American and Latinas working full time, African Americans in Louisiana and Latinas in New Jersey suffer from the largest gaps, the study found.
The report pointed out that if a woman working full-time in Ohio were paid as much as a a man, she could afford nine more months of mortgage and utility payments, while a woman in Louisiana could afford 21 more months of rent if she earned the average male wages in the state.
It used an aggregate measure of median wage differences for women who work full-time compared to men who work full-time. It did not take into account, for instance, any differences for occupation or industries.
However, Vicki Shabo, director of workplace programs at the NPWF, said there is a body of research which shows that, regardless of occupation, industry and working hours, the pay gap still exists.
Shabo said that part of the discrepancies in the gender pay gap across different states were to do with traditional male industries such as mining, where wages for men are high.
But she said that even in places like Washington DC, women earned 10 cents in the dollar less than men, representing $6,638 less every year.
“Part of it is our workplaces and our policies are not very family friendly,” she said. “We don't have paid maternity leave or even paid sick leave like many other countries and there is a lack of flexibility. Women pay the burden when looking after sick children or family members.”
The report was published to coincide with Equal Pay Day on 8 April, which marks how far into the year women would have to work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before