Wage Gap Stays Static At 77 Cents On The Dollar; Smallest in L.A., Largest In Wyoming, Utah, Louisina

WASHINGTON —If you’re a woman worker seeking equal pay for equal work, your best bet is to move to Los Angeles, D.C. – the city — Las Vegas, or Vermont. And even in those cities and states, you won’t quite catch up to men in the wage gap.

Conversely, you want to stay out of three deep-red states – the first two known as bastions of male macho – Wyoming, Utah and Louisiana, in that order.

Either way, on Equal Pay Day 2013, a woman worker’s median wage still is only 77 cents for every dollar a man with the same qualifications and background makes, says the latest study from the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF).

And that means it takes the woman worker all of 2012 and every day of 2013, until April 9, to earn what the equivalent male worker got in 2012 alone.

The study is yet another argument for passage of stronger national equal pay legislation, says NPWF President Debra Ness. But a Senate GOP filibuster killed equal pay bills there the last time they came up, last year, and the GOP-run House refuses to even consider the issue.

The 77 cents per dollar ratio is bad, NPWF says, but data for African-American and Latina women are, as usual, even worse. The African-American women’s median pay translated to 64 cents for every dollar their white male equivalent colleagues earned. For Latinas, it was 55 cents per dollar. Those two gaps have been closing “at a rate of less than half a cent a year since the Equal Pay Act” of 1963, NPWF said.

NPWF said national median yearly pay for women employed full-time – the point where half the nation’s women are above it and half below – is $37,118. That’s $11,084 less than the median for men ($48,202). But the gap in L.A. is only $3,784, and the woman worker there earns 92 cents for every dollar the man earns.

In D.C., not counting its suburbs, that pay gap is a dime, and it’s 13 cents in Vermont and Las Vegas. The median pay for women in D.C. is $60,332, easily the highest in the U.S. The next-highest median for women is in Maryland, at $48,708, 86% of Maryland’s median for men. Mississippi ($29,548) had the lowest median for women. “If the gap were eliminated, women in Seattle could buy an additional 2.3 years’ worth of food. Chicago’s working women could afford at least 2,700 more gallons of gasoline. And women employed full time in New York City could afford seven more months of rent,” NPWF said after analyzing Census Bureau wage data for every state and the 50 largest metro areas.

“It is terribly disappointing that not a single state or metropolitan area has eliminated the wage gap that punishes women and their families. This illustrates how pervasive the gender-based wage gap is, and what it costs families,” Ness said.

“With most women serving as essential breadwinners for their families, the loss of this critical income has devastating consequences. Lawmakers should make ending gender discrimination in pay and promotions a much higher priority.”

In some states – including Vermont and Texas – the median wage gap is smaller than the national chasm because both men and women are below the national median pay figures. That’s how Vermont finishes with the second-smallest gap among the states. Its female ($38,177) and male ($44,057) workers earn below the national median. Texas has the 10th-smallest gap, as both groups are several thousand dollars per worker per year below Vermont.

Then there’s Wyoming, whose male oil-patch workers push men’s median income there up to $51,630 each. Wyoming’s woman workers have a yearly median of $34,681, or 67 cents for every dollar the man earns.

No other state, Utah included, is within $2,800 of Wyoming’s $17,000 yearly gap between men and women. And in no other state does a woman earn less than 70 cents for every dollar the man earns.

The study used Census Bureau data on incomes for male and female workers. The Census Bureau broke down its figures by states, while NPWF extended its study to metro areas, Latino women and African-American women.

But a separate survey, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this year, shows the union contract is a real equalizer in pay between men and women. BLS reported the median weekly – not yearly — earnings figure for all workers nationwide was $768 last year. For unionists, the median was $933, and for non-union workers, it was $742.

The median income for union men last year was $997, compared to an $877 median figure for union women. That’s 88% of the median union man’s weekly pay, and far above the medians for non-union men ($821) and non-union women ($663).

“Fifty years ago this year, the Equal Pay Act became law. Yet a punishing wage gap persists for women in every corner of the country,” Ness added. “We must do more to close the wage gap, which is present in every industry, and affects workers with every level of education.”

-PAI