Today, Equal Pay Day, marks the day when women workers close the 2014 pay gap, and that wage gap is huge. Women, on average, earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to menâ€™s wages and that adds up to more than $10,800 a year and more than $400,000 over a career.
A new report finds that wage gap is even wider for mothers, especially single mothers and mothers of color, most of whom are essential breadwinners and caregivers for their families.
The report, An Unlevel Playing Field: Americaâ€™s Gender-Based Wage Gap, Binds of Discrimination and a Path Forward, by the National Partnership for Women & Families, finds mothers who work full-time, year-round in the United States are paid just 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers who work full-time, year-round. Single mothers are paid just 58 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. And African American and Latina mothers suffer the biggest disparities, being paid just 54 cents and 49 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers.
National PartnershipÂ President Debra L. Ness said:
“At a time when womenâ€™s wages are essential to families and our economy, the persistence of the gender-based wage gap is doing real and lasting damage to women, families, communities and to our nation. It defies common sense that lawmakers are not doing more to stop gender discrimination in wages.”
In 2009, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which overturned a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that denied many pay discrimination victims their day in court. But since then, Republican lawmakers have blocked votes on the Paycheck Fairness Act.
That legislation would strengthen penalties that courts may impose for equal pay violations and prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage practices. The bill alsoÂ would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job performanceâ€”not gender.
The bill was reintroduced last month by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who said:
“Equal pay is not just a problem for women, but for families, who are trying to pay their bills, trying to get ahead, trying to achieve the American Dream and are getting a smaller paycheck than they have earned for their hard work.”
Last April, President Obama signed two executive orders on equal pay, one that banned retaliation against employees of federal contractors for discussing their wages and another that instructed the U.S. Department of Labor to create new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation. While these actions will help federal contractor employees, congressional action is needed to end gender-based pay discrimination for all workers.
Here are some other facts on unequal pay and the wage gap between men and women.
- If the pay trends of the past five decades remain the same, it will take nearly another five decadesâ€”until 2058â€”for women to reach pay equity with men.
- If women and men received equal pay, the poverty rate for all working women and their families would be cut in half from 8.1% to 3.9%.
- The gender wage gap among union members is half the size of the wage gap among nonunion workers.
- Union women working full-time earn, on average, 90.6% of what their male peers earn.
- The wage gap for union members fell 2.6 cents between 2012 and 2013 but was virtually unchanged for nonunion workers.
- Paying women the same wage as their male peers would have added an additional $448 billion to the economy in 2012 or roughly 3% of the countryâ€™s GDP.
- 62% of women who work in the private sector report that discussing pay at work is strongly discouraged or prohibited, making it harder for women to discover if they are missing out on wages they deserve.
- Requiring employers to disclose employee pay rankings would allow women to know if they are being paid the same wage as comparable workers.
This article was originallyÂ printed on AFL-CIO on April 14, 2015. Â Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: MikeÂ HallÂ isÂ aÂ former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for theÂ United Mine Workers Journaland managing editor of theÂ Seafarers Log. Â He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.