Workplace

Equal Pay Day marks continued pay differences between men and women

A new Paycheck Fairness Act is expected to be introduced April 4 in Congress.
A new Paycheck Fairness Act is expected to be introduced April 4 in Congress.

Equal Pay Day is April 4 — the day that marks how far into 2017, on average, U.S. women had to work to equal what men earned in 2016.

According to an analysis of Census data by the National Partnership for Women & Families, the average annual pay gap for women working full time was $10,470.

The National Partnership study concluded that women earn about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men.

The disparity for women is larger in Kansas, at 77 cents on the dollar, and in Missouri, at 78 cents, compared to the national average.

“This analysis shows just how damaging that lost income can be for women and their families, as well as the economy and the businesses that depend on women’s purchasing power,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership.

Some members of Congress are expected to observe the day Tuesday by reintroducing the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that previously has failed to be enacted.

A separate study by the Economic Policy Institute, which supports workers’ interests, pegged the current gender gap at 22 percent, after controlling for race, ethnicity, education, experience and location.

Part of the wage gap is because occupations dominated by women tend to be lower paying than jobs traditionally dominated by men. But EPI researchers Elise Gould and Teresa Kroeger said that, on average, women are paid less than their male colleagues in almost every occupation, regardless of whether it’s a male- or female-dominated industry.

The EPI analysis looked at Current Population Survey data from 2011 through 2016 and found that advanced education doesn’t necessarily help women close the wage gap. Men with a four-year degree earned an average of $37.13 an hour. Women with advanced degrees — beyond four-year degrees — earned an average of $34.95.

Critics of the pay gap data argue that women self-select into lower-paid occupations, that they take time out for child rearing, and that they tend more often than men to work part-time. But statisticians say the numbers take all those factors into account.

Data compilers also emphasize that the numbers are national averages and it’s always possible to cite individual instances where a woman makes more than a man in a particular job.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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