National Partnership for Women & Families

The Gender Wage Gap Costs America’s Women Nearly $500 Billion Per Year, New Equal Pay Day Study Finds

If the Gap Were Closed, Each Woman Could Afford Food for 1.6 Years, Seven More Months of Mortgage and Utilities, or 11 More Months of Rent
WASHINGTON, D.C. — April 11, 2016 —

On average, women employed full time, year round in the United States are paid just 79 cents for every dollar paid to men – a yearly pay gap of $10,762. That means, in total, the country’s women lose nearly $500 billion every year, which is money that could strengthen the economy and the financial security of women and families, including the more than 15.2 million households headed by women. These are some of the findings from a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families and released for Equal Pay Day tomorrow.

The analysis spans all 50 states, all 435 congressional districts, and the District of Columbia. It can be found at NationalPartnership.org/Gap. It finds that African American women and Latinas employed full time, year round are paid 60 cents and 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Asian women in the United States are paid 84 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, with some ethnic subgroups faring much worse.

“This analysis is a sobering reminder of the serious harm the wage gap causes women and families all across the country and especially women of color,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “At a time when women’s wages are so critical to the economic well-being of families, the country is counting on lawmakers to work together to advance strong fair and family friendly workplace policies that would promote equal pay. There is no time to waste.”

According to the new analysis, if the gap between women’s and men’s wages were eliminated, each woman who holds a full-time, year-round job could afford to buy food for 1.6 more years, make seven more months of mortgage and utilities payments, pay rent for 11 more months, or pay for nine more years of birth control. (A graphic highlighting these figures is available here.) Basic necessities like these would be particularly important for the 31 percent of the nation’s woman-headed households currently living below the poverty level.

The new analysis finds that every state and 98 percent of the country’s congressional districts have gender wage gaps. The 10 states with the largest cents-on-the-dollar gaps – from largest to smallest – are Louisiana, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana and Michigan. The District of Columbia has the smallest cents-on-the-dollar gap, but women in the District are still paid some $7,200 less than men each year. A ranking of all 50 states can be found here.

“It is unacceptable that the wage gap has persisted, punishing the country’s women and families for decades,” Ness continued. “Some state lawmakers have taken steps to address the issue by passing legislation to combat discriminatory pay practices and provide other workplace supports. It is past time for federal lawmakers to do the same. We need Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is a common sense proposal that has languished for much too long.”

Currently before Congress, the Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, help to break patterns of pay discrimination, and establish stronger workplace protections for women. The National Partnership argues that the bill, along with other supportive policies – such as paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, minimum wage increases, fair scheduling and protections for pregnant workers – are needed to close the gap and should be top priorities for lawmakers.

The National Partnership’s analysis of the wage gap was released in advance of Equal Pay Day on Tuesday – which marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. The findings for each state are available in map form at NationalPartnership.org/Gap, and a national analysis of the wage gap is available here.

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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