It May Be Equal Pay Day, But It Will Take 40 Years For Women To Reach Equality

April 9, 2013  |  


Do you feel a little more equal today?

There has been much data about the gender wage gap, but a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau stats breaks down the gap by the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas in all 50 states—and includes an analysis of the wage gap for African-American women and Latinas in the 20 states where they are the majority. The analysis is being released for Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. It was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Here are some the disheartening findings: The cities with the largest gender-based, cents-on-the-dollar pay differences are the Seattle, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Detroit. And, the states with the largest cents-on-the-dollar differences are Wyoming, Louisiana, Utah, and West Virginia.

The report also found that nationally, women who hold full-time jobs are only paid the oft-quoted 77 cents for every dollar paid to men who hold full-time jobs. African-American women and Latinas fare worse, paid 64 cents and 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, said the report. This means that if things continue at this rate, women will not be paid equally for more than 40 years.

The findings looked at what the wage gap in each state and locality means in terms of women’s spending power, particularly on food, housing, and gas. This doesn’t bode well for the more than 15.1 million U.S. households headed by women, 31 percent of which fall below the poverty line, according to a press release.

While the study is enlightening, it is also staggeringly shocking. Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families agrees. “It is terribly disappointing that not a single state or metropolitan area has eliminated the wage gap that punishes women and their families. This new analysis illustrates how pervasive the gender-based wage gap is, and what it costs families,” said Ness in a press statement. “With most women serving as essential breadwinners for their families, the loss of this critical income has devastating consequences. Local, state and federal lawmakers should make ending gender discrimination in pay and promotions a much higher priority.”

Many are still pinning their hopes on the ability for the Paycheck Fairness Act to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, which is meant to help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women. The bill, which has President Obama’s support, was reintroduced in Congress in January.  But more is needed, say advocates. The National Partnership and other advocates are calling on the president to issue an executive order on fair pay, which would set an example for the nation’s employers and help ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to support discriminatory pay practices.

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