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47 Years After Equal Pay Act, Women Still Paid Less Than Men

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By James Parks

Forty-seven years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, women still are not being paid the same as men for equivalent work. On average, women earn about 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. For women of color, African American women and Latinas, the gap is even wider. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wages of full-time, year-round workers in 2008 stood at $35,745 for women and $46,367 for men. That’s $10,622 less per year for women and their families in a difficult economy.

The U.S. Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would give employees the tools they need to close the wage gap between men and women and provide the government with enforcement power to correct pay inequities. The U.S. House passed the bill last year. The advocacy group MomsRising has an action here to urge your senator to close the wage gap and back the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Marking the anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act, President Obama today said:

All women and their families deserve equal pay. Women now make up nearly half of the nation’s workforce, most homes have two working parents, and 60 percent of all women work full-time. As we emerge from one of the worst recessions in American history, when families are struggling to pay their bills and save for the future, pay inequity only deepens that struggle and hampers our economy’s ability to fully recover.

The wage gap presents a double whammy for many working women, especially single mothers, Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, told a press conference Tuesday at the America’s Future Now conference. When a single mother loses her job, she generally has few savings because of wage discrimination against women, even as the recession has caused state and local governments to cut back on the very services they need, such as child care.

Writing on Huffington Post today, Linda Meric, executive director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, said:

It’s time that pay discrimination end and the pay gap close in this country—and there is something we all can do about it right now! Push the U.S. Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Some don’t like to talk about it; some even refuse to believe it. Some think we got past this kind of blatant discrimination long ago.



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