COURTESY OF NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR WOMEN & FAMILIES
‘WOMAN ON THE STREET’ INTERVIEWS AND PHOTOS BY BETH GOHS, CONTRIBUTOR
On average, Michigan women employed full-time, year-round are paid just 75 cents for every dollar paid to men—a yearly pay gap of $12,738.
That means, in total, women in Michigan lose nearly $16 billion every year, which is money that could strengthen the state economy and the financial security of Michigan’s women and families, including the nearly 488,000 Michigan households headed by women.
These are some of the findings of a new analysis conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families released for Equal Pay Day on April 12.
The analysis spans all 50 states, all 435 congressional districts in the country, and the District of Columbia.
It can be found at NationalPartnership.org/Gap.
These findings include that, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men in Michigan, African American women, Latinas and Asian women who work full time, year round are paid 66 cents, 57 cents and 96 cents, respectively.
“This analysis is a sobering reminder of the serious harm the wage gap causes women and families all across the country,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “At a time when women’s wages are so critical to the economic well-being of families, the country is counting on lawmakers to work together to advance the fair and family friendly workplace policies that would promote equal pay. There is no time to waste.”
According to the new analysis, if the gap between women’s and men’s wages in Michigan were eliminated, each woman who holds a full-time, year-round job in the state could afford to buy food for 1.8 more years, pay for mortgage and utilities for 10 more months, or pay rent for more than 16 additional months.
Basic necessities like these would be particularly important for the 32 percent of Michigan’s woman-headed households currently living below the poverty level.
Every state and 98 percent of the country’s congressional districts have a wage gap. Analysis finds the 10 states with the largest cents-on-the-dollar wage gaps in the country – from largest to smallest – are Louisiana, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana and Michigan.
Nationally, women who are employed full-time, year round are paid, on average, 79 cents for every dollar paid to men.
The gap is larger for African American women and Latinas who are paid 60 cents and 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
For Asian women in the United States, the gap is smaller but persists. On average, Asian women are paid 84 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, although some ethnic subgroups fare much worse.
“It is unacceptable that the wage gap has persisted, punishing the country’s women and families for decades,” Ness said. “Some state lawmakers have taken steps to address the issue by passing legislation to combat discriminatory pay practices and provide other workplace supports. It is past time for federal lawmakers to do the same. We need Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is a common sense proposal that has languished for much too long.”
Currently before Congress, the Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, help to break patterns of pay discrimination, and establish stronger workplace protections for women.
The National Partnership argues that the bill, along with other supportive policies – such as paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, minimum wage increases, fair scheduling and protections for pregnant workers – are what is needed to close the gap and should be top priorities for lawmakers.
Boyne City Gazette news contributor Beth Gohs interviewed some Charlevoix County women, chosen at random, to find out if they have been victims of the gender pay gap at any time in their life.
Judy Wright said, “The jobs I’ve had in the past, I did payroll. It’s a female-heavy profession. I don’t feel that there was a gender difference in pay.”
Bonnie Miller’s experience was different.
“Yes, since the time I’ve started working about 45 years ago, women made about 77 cents per every dollar men made and today it might be 78 cents,” she said.
Barbara Worgess said, “Absolutely. I’ve been in the working world for 60 years. The difference in pay gap now versus what it was like 50 years ago is very significant. I don’t know statistically how big the gap is now but I know it’s been reduced—but it still exists.”
Martha Thorp said she hasn’t felt a pay difference.
“I owned a store and I didn’t feel it then,” she said. “I haven’t had a job that paid me less than someone of a different gender.”
Tatum McWatters also said she has not seen a pay disparity.
“No, personally, I haven’t because I’ve been self-employed for six years,” she said. “I make my own rates and I charge the same if not more than male photographers. It doesn’t apply in my field.”
Siiri Ostrum-Pfalzer said she has experienced the gap.
“I’m sure I have, especially when I worked in the real estate management industry in the Chicago area,” she said. “It was very obvious that the men were coming into the business at higher salaries and commissions.”
Stacey Harms also said she has been paid less than a man for the same work.
“Not here at the library, it’s equal opportunity. The pay scale is fair,” she said. “I’ve worked at places were it’s definitely been off balance.”
Helene Ivie said she has also seen the pay gap.
“Yes. One of the first jobs I had was working at a plant nursery and I know the guys there made more than I did.”