National Partnership for Women & Families

On Equal Pay Day, New Data Show that Wage Gap Costs America's Working Women Hundreds of Billions in Critical Income Each Year

If Paid Equally, American Women Could Afford 1.7 Years of Food, Rent for 13 Months
Washington, D.C. — April 12, 2011 —
New research released today shows that the nation’s gender-based wage gap is punishing American families. On average, full-time working women in the United States are paid $10,622 less than their male counterparts, and the gap costs families billions of dollars annually. If the gap were eliminated, Alaskan women could buy 1.7 years’ worth of food. Connecticut’s working women could afford 15 more months of rent. Women in Michigan could make 10 more months of mortgage and utility payments. Californian women could buy 2,100 more gallons of gas.

The research was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families, in conjunction with the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The reports span all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The full set is available at www.nationalpartnership.org/epd.

"This new data illustrate the very real harm unequal wages are doing to America’s working families,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “It is long past time to close the gender-based wage gap. With women playing an increasingly important role as family breadwinners, there is no time to waste."

The majority of working mothers in the U.S. now bring in at least a quarter of their families’ earnings, and nearly 14.5 million households nationwide are headed by women. Yet nationally, women working full-time are still paid an average of only 77 cents for every dollar paid to full-time working men. The gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. At that pace, working women won’t come close to being paid the same amount as men until 2058 — when the high school students of today will be preparing for retirement.

"This research proves that the gender pay gap is not simply a numbers issue or a women’s issue," said AAUW Executive Director Linda Hallman, CAE. "It’s a bread and butter issue. It’s an everyday issue for people who are trying to support their families and provide for their futures. No more lip service, it's time to act."

"Unless lawmakers and employers make eliminating the wage gap a priority once and for all, generations of women and their families are going to continue to suffer due to unfair pay and discrimination," Ness explained. "That’s why the re-introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act in Congress today is so important. This legislation is critically important to efforts to end wage discrimination and ensuring that working women are paid fairly."

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and establish stronger workplace protections for women, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the last Congress but fell two votes short of moving forward in the Senate last year. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will re-introduce it today in recognition of Equal Pay Day — the day that marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before.

Contact

Sadie Kliner (202) 986-2600 skliner@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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