by Mark Nootbaar & Tim Camerato – 90.5 Essential Public Radio
With Equal Pay Day upon us, a new study finds not much has changed since the inception of the event in 1996. On average, women in Pennsylvania make 77.4 cents for every dollar men are paid according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. The number was at 73.8 cents in 1996.
“At that rate we are estimating that the pay gap would not close until over 40 years from now,” said the partnership’s Director of Workplace Fairness Sarah Crawford.
The gap grows for women of color. The study finds African American women are paid 70 cents for every dollar men make, “and that amounts to a loss of over $14,000 per year. And Latino women in the state fare even worse… with pay being 57 cents on the dollar,” said Crawford. That, she said, amounts to $20,000 a year.
Equal Pay Day is held around this time in an effort to show how long into the new year women must work to catch up with what men made in the previous year. The study tries to put a different yardstick to the gap. It estimates that if women made as much as men they would be able to purchase an additional 2,690 gallons of gas or pay mortgage and utilities for an additional eight months.
The Gap Grows for Mothers
The study from the National Partnership for Women and Families reports a “motherhood bias” that goes beyond dropping pay for mothers. “Where women with children are generally paid less than women without children, what we see with men is quite the opposite,” said Crawford. “Men with children actually on average are paid a bit more than their counterparts without children.”
The partnership is pushing for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the group says would close important loopholes in the nearly half century old Equal Pay Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed in the the U.S. House in each of the last two sessions but fell two votes short in the Senate in 2010. The measure has not come up for a vote this year.