Today is Equal Pay Day. Each year, Equal Pay Day falls in April because it symbolizes how far into the next year women must work to earn what men do in the previous year. Similarly, Tuesday is the day on which women’s wages catch up to men’s for the previous week.
Despite increases with the Equal Pay Act, women continue to be paid significantly less than men. The average for women is $0.78 for every dollar men make. To be sure, that’s a major improvement from the $0.59 women received when the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, but it’s still entirely unacceptable. There is no reason women should not be paid as much as men.
Along with it, progressive bloggers across the United States are holding a “Blog For Fair Pay Day” to encourage action in support of women’s fair pay.
Women’s Wages in Michigan
Here in Michigan, women are paid only $0.72 cents for every dollar paid to men. That’s six cents less than the national average of $0.78. Women in Michigan are paid less than every neighboring state with the exception of Indiana.
- White, non-Hispanic women working full-time, year-round in Michigan earned only 70% of the wages of White, non-Hispanic men. However, Black women working full-time, year-round in Michigan earned only 64%, and Hispanic women only 56% of the wages of White, non-Hispanic men.
- The wage gap persists at all levels of education. Women in Michigan with a high school diploma earned only 62% of what men with a high school diploma earned. Women in Michigan with a bachelor’s degree earned only 60% of the amount that men with a bachelor’s degree were paid. In fact, the average Michigan woman must receive a bachelor’s degree before she earns as much as the average Michigan male high school graduate.
- The wage gap exists across occupations. For example, Michigan women working fulltime, year-round in sales and related occupations earned only 73% of what men in the same occupations earned, and Michigan women working full-time, year-round in management, business, and financial occupations earned only 69% of what men in the same occupations earned.
Moreover, the National Women’s Law Center says that women in Michigan hold a more precarious position in the economy than men. They report that aside from lower earnings, women have higher rates of poverty. Women are also more likely to face problems if they lose their jobs, with fewer women having savings to fall back on. Women also rely more on government programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance than men–programs which are threatened in the current economy.
Take Action for Fair Pay
Back in January, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. However, the Paycheck Fairness Act has stalled in the Senate (it has already passed in the House, but Grand Rapids Representative Vern Ehlers did vote against it). The bill would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages.