Wage gap costs women extra 92 weeks of groceries

A new report released today on Equal Pay Day shows that the yearly median pay for women in America is $10,784 less than their male counterparts.

African American women and Latinas are far worse off, earning $19,575 and $23,873 less than men, respectively.

If the gap were eliminated, the report by the National Partnership for Women and Families says, women in the state of Washington could buy an additional 1.7 years’ worth of food. Colorado’s working women could afford 2,746 more gallons of gas. Women in Wisconsin could afford 14 more months of rent, and Connecticut women could pay for 3.7 years’ worth of family health insurance premiums.

The report covers all 50 states and includes rankings of the states by wage gap for all women and women of color. Click here.

“This shows just how much harm the wage gap foes to women and families throughout the country,” said National Partnership President Debra Ness. “With state economies struggling and women increasingly serving as the sole or co-breadwinners for their families, tens of thousands of dollars in lost wages each year takes a tremendous toll.”

Fifteen million households are headed by women, and almost 30 percent of them live below the poverty level. Full-time working women are paid, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar paid to fill-time working men.

According to the report that gap results in loss of income needed for basic necessities. Legislation alone, is not achieving the desired results, according to women’s groups.

Since the Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, the wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a percent per year. At that rate women’s wages will not catch up to men’s for more than 40 years.

“The Equal Pay Act was enacted 49 years ago and women are still paid 23 cents less than men on the dollar,” Ness said. “Today, the wage gap causes great harm to women and their families and it spans industries and persists regardless of education level.”

Ness said there is an urgent need for lawmakers to do more to promote fairness in pay. “Congress must not wait any longer. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act must be a priority now.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and establish stronger workplace protections for women was passed by the House in the last two Congresses but was filibustered in the Senate by republicans in 2010. It has been reintroduced into the current Congress.

Equal Pay Day, April 17, marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before,

Photo: San Francisco hotel workers, Labor Day 2011. Marilyn Bechtel/PW 



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.