Data released Tuesday for Equal Pay Day show that wages for Utah women remain considerably lower than for men, which is costing families throughout the state thousands of dollars each year.
Women in Utah are paid 69 cents for every dollar paid to men — amounting to a yearly gap of $14,446. And with nearly 85,500 Utah households led by women, the new data show that these gaps harm families and the state economy, according to a report by National Partnership for Women & Families, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.
Working women and the wage gap in Utah, U.S.
Median pay » A woman working full time, year round receives $32,163 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $46,609.
Disparity » Women are paid 69 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $14,446 between full-time working men and women.
Women of color » African American and Latina women working full time are paid 52 cents for every dollar paid to all men, a difference of more than $22,200 per year.
U.S. pay » Women working full time, year round are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to all men. African American women are paid 62 cents and Latinas are paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
If the gap between men’s and women’s wages were eliminated, each full-time working woman in Utah could afford to pay for groceries for an additional 2.1 years, buy 3,890 more gallons of gas, pay mortgages and utilities for 10 more months, pay rent for 18 more months or purchase family health insurance premiums for 4.1 more years.
These necessities would be particularly important for the 28.2 percent of Utah’s women-led households now living below the poverty level.
The analysis ranks Utah 48th among the 50 states in gender-based wage gap. There’s virtually no improvement from last year’s report, which put Utah’s pay gap as the fourth largest in the nation.
"It doesn’t look like Utah has made any progress over the past year," said Sarah Crawford, the organization’s director of workplace fairness.
Only Louisiana, ranked 49th, and Wyoming, 50th, fare worse. By contrast, in Vermont, No. 1, women are paid 84 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $6,671 between full-time working men and women.
Tuesday’s Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.
The gap in earnings for Utah women isn’t all that surprising, considering their troublesome college graduation rates, said Lecia Parks Langston, an economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Utah has the worst disparity in the nation between men and women earning bachelor’s degrees or higher — a difference of 6 percentage points. The Utah education gap more than doubles that of the next closest state, Idaho, at 2.4 percentage points, while the national average is 0.6 points.
"Education does pay," Langston said. "Women in Utah may think that they won’t have to work, but they do — and at a higher percentage than women nationally. There needs to be more emphasis on women understanding that they need to go to college and graduate. But there must be a big cultural change for this to happen."
In Utah, black women and Latinas do much worse, receiving annually $22,229 and $22,405, respectively, less than all Utah men.
"This new analysis illustrates just how much harm the wage gap does to women and families throughout the country, and especially to women of color where the gap between the wages paid to women and men is staggering," said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness in a statement.
Nationally, women working full-time are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Black women are paid 62 cents and Latinas are paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to men.
The gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963.
"The Equal Pay Act was enacted 49 years ago and women are still paid 23 cents less than men on the dollar," Ness said.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the past two Congresses, but it fell two votes short of moving forward in the Senate in 2010. It has been reintroduced in the current Congress.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has voted against advancing the bill. He said the act would expose employers to civil penalties far above an aggrieved worker’s back pay.
The wage gap remains even when accounting for personal choices — such as work patterns and education, according to a Government Accountability Office study. Working mothers pay a "penalty" for having children while fathers get a bonus. Nationally, women with children are paid 2.5 percent less than women without children, while men with children experience a boost of 2.1 percent over men without children.Next Page >
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