Tuesday was Equal Pay Day–the date that symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010.
Nearly 50 years after enactment of the Equal Pay Act, working women in the United States are paid an average of 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. The pay gap is even larger for women of color, with black women earning about 70 cents, and Latinas about 60 cents, of every dollar paid to all men.
U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement marking Equal Pay Day:
When women start at a disadvantage, they stay at a disadvantage. Every time a woman starts a new job or tries to negotiate for a pay raise, she is starting from a lower base salary. So, the pay gap grows wider and wider over time.
The Labor Department reports the pay gap for the average, full-time working woman means she gets $150 less in her weekly paycheck. If she works all year, that’s $8,000 less at the end of the year and approximately $380,000 over a lifetime.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) yesterday released a new fact sheet on the gender wage gap that shows women have lower median earnings than men in 107 out of 111 occupations, regardless of levels of education.
According to the fact sheet, in the lowest paid 10 occupations, nearly two-thirds of workers are women, while in the highest paid 10 occupations some two-thirds of workers are men. Women’s median earnings are lower than men in the 10 most common occupations, in the 10 highest paid occupations, and in the 10 lowest paid occupations. Check out the fact sheet “The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation” here.
Lisa Maatz, director of public policy and government relations for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), says:.
Pay discrimination is alive and well and undermining the economic security of American families, and when one woman is discriminated against, we’ll all be affected. That’s why we mark Equal Pay Day every year—to educate the public about this pernicious problem and show women they will not be alone in confronting it.
AAUW also has released a guide to the gender gap including a state-by-state analysis of women’s pay compared with that of men. Click here to read the guide, entitled “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap.”
Solis sums up the need for equal pay tbis way:
Equal pay is not just a women’s issue. It’s not just a family issue. It’s a recovery issue. I am committed to finding commonsense solutions to closing the pay gap once and for all so that our nation will be a more fair and equitable place for everyone.