(Washington, D.C.) The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) Wednesday released new analysis that shows that the average gender wage gap in states with minimum wages above the federally mandated $7.25 per hour is three cents smaller than the average wage gap in states where the minimum wage is just $7.25. And the analysis shows that among the ten states with the widest wage gaps in 2011—Wyoming, Louisiana, Utah, West Virginia, North Dakota, Mississippi, Michigan, Alabama, Montana and Idaho—only two (Michigan and Montana) had minimum wages above $7.25.
Seven of the ten states with the narrowest wage gaps in 2011—District of Columbia, Vermont, Nevada, California, Rhode Island, Arizona and Florida—had minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 per hour. The Center’s analysis reveals that in every state, women represent at least 50 percent of the workers making the state’s minimum wage or below. In twenty-five states, women account for more than 60 percent of the workers making at or below the state minimum wage.
Women make up nearly half the labor force, but their paychecks lag far behind men’s. A woman who works full time, year round is typically paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart—a pay gap that translated to $11,084 in lost wages in 2011. In Wyoming—the state with the worst wage gap for women overall—a woman working full time, year round is typically paid only 67 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart, which translated to $17, 249 in lost wages in 2011. The Center’s analysis reveals that a wage gap of Wyoming’s magnitude, or worse, is the norm for women of color. African-American women working full time, year-round are typically paid only 64 cents, and Hispanic women are typically paid only 55 cents, for each dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts. These gaps resulted in a loss of $18,817 for African-American women and $23,298 for Hispanic women in 2011.
“This month marks fifty years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, and the gap in wages has moved at a snail’s pace—shrinking only18 cents in five decades and remaining stagnant for the last decade,” said NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger. “And for women of color, the wage gap is even worse. Equal pay is not an abstract principle for women and their families. It translates into thousands of dollars of lost wages year after year that cut deeply into household budgets and force many families to go without basic necessities. At a time when families are relying increasingly on women’s wages, it’s critical to close this gap—and do it now.”
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of passage of the Equal Pay Act, which occurs on June 10th, the Center today launched the website My Wage Gap (http://www.mywagegap.org), which features visually compelling info-graphics about the wage disparity and an interactive portal where women can post what they would do with an additional $11,000 per year. Women’s entries will be highlighted in real time and posted on Facebook and Twitter (#fairpay)—generating a national conversation among women of all ages about how the wage gap affects them personally.
Also Wednesday, the Center will host an equal pay panel—50 Years and Counting: The Unfinished Business of Achieving Fair Pay—at the National Press Club featuring Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) as the keynote speaker. The four panelists will discuss the barriers that allow the wage gap to persist and propose concrete solutions to close it, which include the following measures: raising the minimum wage, strengthening equal pay laws by prohibiting retaliation against employees for discussing their pay, closing loopholes that make these laws less effective, increasing opportunities for women and girls to train for and enter higher-wage nontraditional jobs, adopting 21st Century workplace policies, such as paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave, and enforcing existing protections for women in the workplace, including against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and caregiving.
For more NWLC analysis of the wage gap and women’s economic status:
- The Wage Gap, State by State
- Explaining the wage gap
- Closing the wage gap is crucial for women of color and their families
- How the wage gap hurts women and families
- The Wage Gap Over Time
Source: Press Release – The National Women’s Law Center
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