Tuesday, April 10, 2018, is the day on which women’s wages catch up with men’s wages from the previous year. This day varies year to year. It symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man made the previous year. April 10 is six days later than Equal Pay Day 2017, two days earlier than Equal Pay Day 2016, four days later than Equal Pay Day 2015, one day later than Equal Pay Day 2014, five days earlier than Equal Pay Day 2013, and seven days earlier than Equal Pay Day 2012 when Ni-Ta-Nee NOW started tracking this date!
Since I started this blog at the end of 2012 (8 months after Equal Pay Day 2012), I’ve created a blog to provide some information on this day and its meaning to economic justice for women. Each year, I created a flyer for Ni-Ta-Nee NOW that we distributed to the public in State College, PA on Equal Pay Day and then turned it into a blog for the general public. The previous blogs can be found here:
The general theme of these previous blogs is that women’s wages are currently moving at a snail’s pace towards equity with men’s wages. At the rate of change since 1960, it will be 2059 before women achieve wage parity; but at the slower, snail’s pace rate of change since 2001, it will be 2119 before women’s wages reach parity.
Yet there is some bright news. On Tuesday, April 9, 2018, the eleven-member 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously gave the idea of pay equity a boost by ruling that “employers cannot use previous salaries to justify higher payment for men than for women.” This decision only applies to the nine states within the 9th Circuit Court’s jurisdiction, but it is a start.
So to change my blog a bit, I thought I’d share Nel’s New Day‘s commentary on this decision and on Equal Pay Day 2018. She talks about similar issues, including varying dates of pay equity for people of color and a more in-depth effort to debunk the reasons for pay inequity than I have done in the past.
She also talks about international pay equity, ranking the United States against other countries around the world. I, in contrast, looked at the ranking of PA as compared to the United States. So I’ll add that bit and then share Nel’s commentary with you.
How About PA?
The wage gap is even worse in Pennsylvania than in the United States. When ranked among the other 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania’s wage gap places us at 29 out of 51 (tied with CT, TX, OR, & IL) among the states. The median annual income for a woman working full-time, year-round in Pennsylvania in 2016 (the last date data were available) was $41,047 compared to men’s $51,780 or 79% of what a man earns. This is a wage gap of 21%.
In the Old PA 5th Congressional District where I live
In 2016, Pennsylvania’s old 5th Congressional District (CD), women in the district made $35,384 compared to the $45.640 that men earned or 77.5% of what a man earned (a BIG improvement over the 73.4% in 2015). The old 5th Congressional district ranks 9 out of 18 (up from 15) in the state in terms of the wage gap. This is a wage gap of 22.5%. Philadelphia’s 1st CD fairs better than the rest of the state with a difference of just 13.7%.
[Side note: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on January 22, 2018, that Pennsylvania’s Congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. After the General Assembly and the Governor failed to create a new map by the mandated February 15 deadline, the Supreme Court established and announced the new districts on February 19. Due to this recent redistricting, the pay equity data for Pennsylvania’s new Congressional Districts has yet to be done.]
Lifetime Wage Disparity in Pennsylvania
A woman in Pennsylvania who is just starting her career now will earn, on average, $429,320 less than her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart over the course of a 40-year career (ranked 30 out of 51 states). For Asian-American women, it’s $418,280; for white, non-Hispanic women, it’s $463,960, for Black women, it’s $657,680; for Native American women, it’s $840,800; & for Hispanic women, it’s $679,920.
Equal Pay Day – Help from the 9th Circuit with a National and International Perspective on Pay Equity
If women got the same wages that men do for equal jobs, then Equal Pay Day would be December 31 each year. But we don’t, and women on the average have to work over three months longer to equal the men’s salaries each year because women make $.80 for each $1.00 that men make. This year, Equal Pay Day is April 10, and women can celebrate a great court win today.
Almost one year ago, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court ruled that employers can pay women less than men for the same work by using differences in workers’ previous salaries. The decision overturned a lower-court ruling and was appealed. Deborah Rhode of the Stanford Law School pointed out that this decision “perpetuate[s] the discrimination” because it “allow[s] prior discriminatory salary setting to justify future ones.”
Today, the eleven members of the 9th Circuit Court unanimously ruled that employers cannot use previous salaries to justify higher payment for men than for women. Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote the majority opinion before he died last month at the age of 87. The case concerned a starting salary for Aileen Rizo, a math consultant with the Fresno County Office of Education, who was paid less than all her male colleagues. The decision applies to the nine states of the 9th Circuit Court.
Although April 10 is Equal Pay Day for all women, dates vary for different ethnic groups when compared to white non-Hispanic men:
- Asian-American Women: February 22, 2018 ($.87)
- White Women: April 17, 2018 ($.79)
- Black Women: August 7, 2018 ($.63)
- Native American Women: September 27, 2018 ($.57)
- Latinas: November 1, 2018 ($.54)
People who refuse to believe in the existence of the gender pay gap spread these myths:
- Myth: Women choose lower-paying work. Women are consistently told that they cannot do as well in male-dominated fields such as finance and technology. As career fields have a higher percentage of female entering them, the salaries drop because male-centric jobs are more prestigious. For example, biology and design were higher paying when more males were employed in these fields, whereas computing paid less in early years because early programmers were women. The trend then reversed for all these fields—computing became more lucrative when men dominated, and biology and design paid less with more women.
- Myth: Women choose to work fewer hours and select more part-time work than men do. Again, this is not a choice because the U.S. lacks federally mandated family leave, and child care is prohibitively expensive. With salaries higher for men, households with one worker keep the woman at home. Gender biases also allow men to leave home to work, leaving women to care for the children.
- Myth: Women choose jobs with flexibility over high pay so they can care for families. Female-dominated workplaces—care work, primary education, and clerical—have far less flextime than other workplace.
- Myth: More women are getting college degrees than men, so the gap will close on its own. Women continue to select college majors with lower-paying jobs. At the current rate, the closure of the gender pay gap may not occur for another 200 years.
Take-home pay is not the only problem from the gender pay gap. The discrimination leads to trickle-down financial disadvantages causing income inequality and financial insecurity:
- The retirement savings gap: Women save about half ($45,614) as much as men ($90,189), and only 52 percent of women have retirement savings’ accounts such as a 401K, compared to 71 percent of men.
- The student debt gap: Although women have less student debt, they are less equipped to deal with this debt; 28 percent of women see their loans a “not at all manageable” compared to less than half this percentage for men at 13 percent.
- The financial literacy gap: Men are taught far more about managing their finance, and parents think that sons have a better understanding of their money’s value than their daughters.
- The work time gap: Women are twice as likely as men to have part-time jobs which fail to offer such benefits as health care, retirement investment, and transit support. Women’s expenditures are more than those for men without these advantages. Again, women are left at home to care for the children because of the myth that they have more skill in this area than men.
- The homeownership gap: Homes owned by men are worth more than those owned by women, and male-owned homes appreciate more. Times reported that “homes owned by single men on average are valued 10 percent higher than those of single women, and that the value of their homes have appreciated by 16 percent more than those of their female counterparts.” Women, especially those of color, are also far more likely to be targeted by predatory lenders. “In 2005, women were 30 to 46 percent more likely to receive subprime mortgage loans than men. Black women were a staggering 256 percent more likely to receive subprime loans than white men,” according to Salon.
The gender pay gap doesn’t need to exist. A new Iceland law requires employers to pay women the same as men. All public and private employers with 25 or more employees must obtain government certification of equal pay policies or face fines. The legislation was supported by Iceland’s center-right ruling party and the opposition. The 2017 Global Gender Pay Report shows that Iceland has the most gender equality of any country in term of economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
The United States ranks 49th in gender equality, ahead of Kazakhstan but behind Uganda. The United States ranks 96th in political empowerment of women, behind Nepal, Algeria and Pakistan.
A major difference between the United States and Iceland is also the female participation in Iceland’s federal government. Almost 50 percent of Iceland’s parliament is female. Women make up just 19 percent of the U.S. Congress.
Iceland is smart in this legislation: equal pay can help a country’s economy. Equal pay for women can increase the GDP, adding women in senior management roles and corporate boards can boost companies return on assets, and raising women’s wage can cut the poverty rate for both working women and their children in half if women earn as much as men. The U.S. economy could add $512.6 billion in wage and salary income, equivalent to 2.8 percent of 2016 GDP. Lifting women out of poverty would vastly decrease the need for costs in the nation’s the safety net.
Statistics surrounding U.S. pay will be unknown in the future, however, after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) eliminated the requirement for large companies to report wages by race and gender. In Iceland, all pay data will be made public for transparency.
Conservatives claim that the 1963 Equal Pay Act covers all problems with the gender gap in salaries. Yet among the caveat for “equal” pay is “a differential based on any other factor other than sex.” This one was used when the three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court ruled last year that past salaries could be used to pay women less.
A consistent argument against the Paycheck Fairness Act in the United States is that men make more money because they work harder and their jobs are “riskier.” That came from GOP state Rep. Will Infantine in New Hampshire. He added, “[Men] don’t mind working nights and weekends. They don’t mind working overtime, or outdoors in the elements.” As if that wasn’t enough, he said that “men are more motivated by money than women are.” That was in 2014. The state house gave “preliminary approval to the Paycheck Equity Act,” and the law took effect in 2015. Infantine is no longer in the state legislature.
Women can also be destructive to decreasing the gender pay gap:
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), now a candidate for Senate, said that women “don’t want” equal pay laws.
- Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) said it is “condescending” towards women to work on policies intended to prevent wage discrimination.
- Phyllis Schlafly, before her death, wanted the pay gap to be larger so that women could find a “suitable mate.”
- Kirsten Kukowski, RNC Press Secretary in 2014, could think of any policies her party could support to improve pay equity.
- Cari Christman, head of Texas PAC RedState Women, said that women were too “busy” to find a solution to the gender pay gap.
- Beth Cubriel, the 2014 executive director of the Texas GOP, said that women needed to become “better negotiators” if they want equal pay.
- Fox network’s Martha MacCallum declared, “Many women get paid exactly what they’re worth.”
GOP men are equally dismissive. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) wanted to know what gender pay fairness would do for men, and Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy, called the debate “nonsense.”
Many people on the far right are even questioning women’s right to vote.
- White supremacist leader Richard Spencer said that women voting in U.S. elections isn’t “a great thing.”
- Casey Fisher, a Davis County (UT) GOP precinct chairman, called voting rights for a “grave mistake.”
- Davis County GOP chairwoman Teena Horlacher, Fisher’s colleague, defended him by saying that Fisher was following the beliefs of the Founding Fathers.
- Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore co-authored a textbook that was critical of the women’s suffrage movement.
- Ann Coulter also opposes women’s right to vote, but her net worth was almost $9 million in 2016.
Imagine the gender pay gap if women couldn’t even vote. Happy Equal Pay Day!