Report: Gender wage gap costs Virginia women $24.1 billion a year
A state-by-state analysis released for Equal Pay Day tomorrow reveals that a woman employed full time, year-round in Virginia is typically paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to a man – a yearly pay difference of $11,019.
That means Virginia women lose a combined total of more than $24.1 billion every year to the gender wage gap. If it were closed, on average, a woman working full time in Virginia would be able to afford 86 more weeks of food for her family, more than six additional months of mortgage and utilities payments, nearly one additional year of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college, 9.5 more months of rent or nearly 14months of child care each year.
This new analysis, conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, finds that Virginia has the 29th largest cents-on-the-dollar gap in the nation. It also finds that there is a gender-based wage gap in every single state and the District of Columbia. The cents-on-the-dollar gap is largest in Louisiana and Utah, followed closely by West Virginia and Montana – and smallest in New York, California and Florida. The study also analyzed the wage gap in each of Virginia’s congressional districts, as well as for Black women and Latinas in Virginia and other states.
Working women in Virginia are not alone in suffering the effects of the gender wage gap. It has detrimental effects on women’s spending power in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The wage gap contributes greatly to our country’s high rates of poverty and income inequality and is especially punishing for women of color. Nationally, white non-Hispanic women are typically paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Black women 63 cents and Latinas 54 cents. Asian women are paid 87 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, although some ethnic subgroups of Asian women fare much worse. The wage gap for mothers is 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.
“Equal Pay Day is a disturbing reminder that women overall have had to work more than three months into 2018 just to catch up with what men were paid in 2017, and Black women and Latinas must work considerably further into the year,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “The wage gap cannot be explained by women’s choices. It’s clear that discrimination contributes to it – and equally clear that it’s causing grave harm to women, families and the country. Lawmakers have not done nearly enough to end wage discrimination based on gender and race; to end sexual harassment, which impedes women’s job advancement; to stop discrimination against pregnant women; to advance paid family and medical leave and paid sick days; and to increase access to high-quality, affordable reproductive health care. If our country is to thrive, we must root out bias in wages, reject outdated stereotypes and stop penalizing women for having children and caring for their families.”
To address this pervasive problem, the National Partnership is urging Congress to pass:
- The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women;
- The Fair Pay Act, which would diminish wage disparities that result from gender-based occupational segregation;
- The Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days;
- The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program;
- The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would update and strengthen protections against discrimination against pregnant workers;
- The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, which would restore abortion coverage to women who receive health care or insurance through the federal government and prohibit political interference with health insurance companies that offer coverage for abortion care; and
- Measures that would increase the minimum wage, eliminate the tipped minimum wage and strengthen protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.
“The gender-based wage gap results in staggering losses that make it harder for women, in Virginia and across the country, to pay for food and shelter, child care, college tuition, birth control and other health care. We urgently need public policies that improve women’s access to decent-paying jobs, provide the supports women need to stay in the workforce and advance in their jobs, and ensure fair and nondiscriminatory treatment wherever women work and whatever jobs they hold,” added National Partnership Vice President for Workplace Policies and Strategies Vicki Shabo. “We need the Trump administration to help solve this problem rather than exacerbating it. We ask the administration to immediately stop blocking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from implementing an equal pay initiative aimed at identifying and helping root out pay discrimination.”
In addition, Ness noted that state lawmakers can help address the wage gap by passing laws that prohibit employers from asking about salary history and protect employees from retaliation if they discuss pay. The private sector plays a role as well, and companies can help level the playing field by increasing pay transparency, limiting the use of salary history and using standardized pay ranges in hiring and promotions.
Findings for each state from the National Partnership’s new wage gap analysis are available at NationalPartnership.org/Gap, as are analyses of the wage gap at the national level, in the 25 states with the largest numbers of Black womenand Latinas who work full time, and in all 435 congressional districts.