The C is for Crank

Hey, Ladies: Happy Equal Pay Day!

By Erica C. Barnett April 12, 2011

Today, April 12, is Equal Pay Day---the day that symbolizes how long into the year a women would have to work for her pay to catch up to a man's earnings from the previous year. Nationwide, women continue to make just 77 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by men; only 59 percent of that gap can be explained away by factors like occupation, industry category, job experience, union status, and race. Over 40 years of paid employment, the gap adds up to an average wage loss for women of $434,000 ($713,000 for college-educated women).

But surely things are better in Washington State---home of the nation's highest minimum wage, a long union tradition, and efforts at gender equity---right?

Not so fast. According to the Economic Opportunity Institute, women in Washington make just 63 cents for every dollar earned by men, or about $1,815 less per month. That's true, EOI reports, "in every sector of the economy, and at every age."
Forward progress for women in the workforce has largely stalled over the past two decades because workplace standards remain mired in outdated assumptions that most workers are men and most families have a full-time caregiver at home. Among Washington’s private sector workforce in 2009, just 41% of firms offered paid sick leave to full time employees, and just 14% offered the benefit to part-time employees.

A critical piece of the pay equity puzzle includes employer recognition of changing family structures. Now more than ever, families rely on two incomes to get by – and women’s earnings are critical to family economic security. But employer practices and benefits often to don’t recognize these changes – and penalize female employees for taking time away from work for maternity leave, to care for sick children, or provide care for an elderly relative.
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