NOTE: With so little time until the election, one of the issues that makes these weeks so urgent is the need to protect and expand women’s right to equal pay.
The pay gap between working women and men in the U.S. continues to be one of the highest ranking concerns for women. It is also a priority for men, because when one earner in a family brings in less than she should, the family suffers overall.
Though “equal pay for equal work” has been the law since 1963, disparities in pay between men and women for full–time, year–round workers are not lessening substantially, and cannot be expected to go away naturally, as some conservatives claim (after all, it’s already been 49 years).
81 Cents to a Man’s Dollar
According to U.S. Department of Labor figures for full–time, year–round workers, women’s earnings in 2011 were on average 81% of men’s, up only 1% from the previous year. The gain was mainly attributed to a decline in men’s earnings in the recession, not an increase in women’s pay.
Median earnings for women of color continue to be lower than the average for all women, which of course includes white women, who earn 85% of men’s wages overall. Asian American women also make 85%. African American women come in at 72% of men’s earnings, and for Latinas the percentage is 63%.
Native American women are at the bottom with only 59 cents.253
Every year, $200 billion lost to wage gap
• Nationwide, working families lose $200 billion in income annually due to the wage gap between men and women. That translates to between $700,000 and $2 million for individual women over the course of their work lives.
• If married women were paid the same as men in comparable jobs, their family incomes would rise by nearly 6 percent, and their families’ poverty rates would be cut by almost 40%.
• If single women earned as much as men in comparable jobs, their individual incomes would rise by 13.4 percent and their poverty rates would be reduced from 6.3 percent to 1 percent.
• Men in traditionally female fields, such as child care, nursing, and teaching, make more than the women in these jobs.
• Women in non–traditional jobs, like the building trades that historically pay more, still get shortchanged an average of $3,446 per year.
• The median annual earnings for women with professional degrees are $65,912; men earn $90,000.
• Lower earnings means lower private pensions. Women with income from a pension or annuity receive less than $6,500 per year, compared with $12,000 per year for men.
• Elderly women get over 22% less in Social Security benefits than men, largely due to lower lifetime earnings.
Photo courtesy of the author
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