A new report released for Equal Pay Day tomorrow finds that America’s gender-based wage gap is pervasive and has a disproportionate impact on the country’s mothers, and especially single mothers and mothers of color, most of whom are essential breadwinners and caregivers for their families. The report includes analyses of the wage gap by state, for women of color, and by parental and marital status. It also shows what losing thousands of dollars each year to this gap is costing women and families in terms of basic necessities like food, housing and child care.
The report, An Unlevel Playing Field: America’s Gender-Based Wage Gap, Binds of Discrimination, And A Path Forward, was prepared by the National Partnership for Women & Families. It finds that the wage gap exists in every state and among women across racial and ethnic backgrounds, but mothers are hit especially. According to the report, 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.
“At a time when women’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,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “This analysis shows that women and families are losing thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could pay for significant amounts of food, rent, gas, child care and other basic necessities. And the very women whose wages are especially critical to their families are suffering the most. The effects ripple throughout our economy.”
According to the analysis, if the gap between the wages of women and men who work full time, year round were eliminated, a mother in the United States would have enough money for 2.4 more years of food, 11 more months of mortgage and utilities payments, 18 more months of rent, 25 more months of child care, or 6,600+ gallons of gas. A single mother, for whom affordable and reliable child care is essential, would have enough for 35 more months of child care. And African American and Latina mothers who experience even larger wage gaps could have even more purchasing power for these necessities.
The report also includes a summary of a state-by-state analysis of the wage gap suffered by all women who work full time, year round that the National Partnership conducted when the U.S. Census Bureau released its most recent data. The full set of findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as an additional analysis of the wage gaps for African American women and Latinas in the 20 states with the largest numbers of them working full time, is available at www.NationalPartnership.org/Gap.
“It has been well documented that the wage gap spans geography, race, industry, education level and other factors, and that it is closing at a glacial pace,” Ness continued. “America’s women and families simply cannot afford to wait another four decades for fair pay. It is past time for fair and family friendly workplace policies that will level the playing field and give all women the fair shot they need to support themselves and their families while fully contributing to our economy.”
An Unlevel Playing Field outlines several measures that would help close the wage gap, including fair and family friendly workplace policies. Members of Congress have reintroduced three of the proposals so far this year: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women; the Healthy Families Act, which would establish a national paid sick days standard; and the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. Other measures discussed in the report include an increase in the minimum wage and protections for pregnant workers.
The National Partnership’s analysis of the wage gap was released the day before Equal Pay Day, which is April 14 this year. The day marks how far into the year women who work full time and year round must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. An Unlevel Playing Field, analyses specific to women of color, a state-by-state analysis, and state rankings are all available at www.NationalPartnership.org/Gap.