An analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released today shows that the gender-based wage gap has not improved significantly since last year, spans all 50 states, and has real costs for women and their families. Women who are employed full time, year round in the United States are paid just 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $10,876. If the gap were eliminated, on average, a working woman would have enough money for 1.6 more years’ worth of food, more than seven more months of mortgage and utilities payments, 12 more months of rent, or 3,208 additional gallons of gas.
The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families and is based on data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, which was released on Tuesday, as well as its American Community Survey, which was released today. The analysis includes the wage gap for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and nationally for African American women and Latinas. It finds that African American women and Latinas who work full time, year round are paid just 64 cents and 56 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
“These new data and analysis are a sobering reminder of just how much the wage gap is costing America’s women, families and our economy,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Losing thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could go toward essential food, gas, rent and other necessities is punishing for any family, especially at a time when women are serving as breadwinners in the majority of families. The losses for women of color are staggering.”
According to the analysis, more than 15.2 million households nationwide are now headed by women, and about 31 percent of them live below the poverty level. These findings underscore the importance of women’s wages to their families, especially at a time when married mothers are the primary or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families, and 40 percent of married Latina mothers and more than 50 percent of married African American mothers bring in half or more of their families’ income.
Yet, on Monday, the Senate failed to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would combat the portion of the wage gap attributed to discrimination. The bill would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, strengthen existing laws, and establish stronger workplace protections for women. Although these new data suggest the wage gap has narrowed – from 23 to 22 cents for every dollar – the Census calls the change “not statistically significant.” It is still estimated that it will not close on its own for more than 40 years.
“It is simply unacceptable that the wage gap and pay discrimination continue to go unaddressed and unchecked by members of Congress,” Ness continued. “We know from Census data and the experiences of women across the country that the wage gap exists regardless of industry, occupation and education, and it is not getting appreciably better. All lawmakers need to take a hard look at the damage being done in their districts – and across the country – and commit to passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.”
In a 2014 nationwide survey, 62 percent of likely voters said they supported the Paycheck Fairness Act – 83 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of independents and 44 percent of Republicans.
The Obama administration has taken steps to promote fair pay. In April, the president announced he would issue an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who share pay information. The proposed rule to implement that executive order was published this week. The president has also ordered DOL to create a data collection tool to better understand what federal contractors pay their employees across gender and race, and to identify disparities.