Equal Pay Day: A fist full of dollars more

Today is Equal Pay Day. It represents how far into 2012 women have to work to make the same salary as men in all of 2011. And call me kooky, but it feels like some kind of poetic twist that it falls on Tax Day, a day when many Americans begrudgingly pay their fair share. (And just ask Warren Buffet’s secretary about how “fair” that share is.)

This year it’s 108 days into the year. It’s more than a third of the way through the year and women are just now catching up to men in the last calendar year!

The worst part is, women should already be making equal wages to men according to the law! But without the teeth to enforce it and without the means to fight wage discrimination (or, you know, simply repealing the laws that are supposed to protect women), millions of women have to just put up with being treated like second-class workers.

With white women making approximately 77 cents on every dollar men earn (58 cents for Hispanics and 68 cents for African-American women), women have to work harder and longer hours just to break even. As we all struggle through these hard economic times many families simply can’t afford to have their female breadwinners bringing home $23 less dollars for every $100 a man earns. Nationwide, working families annually lose $200 billion in lost wages. That could buy a lot of gas, groceries and rent! (See a break-down by state and more here.)

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, Nevada women make 83 cents on the dollar (PDF). Better than the national average, but that’s little comfort to struggling families in the Silver State. In fact, when you add it up, Nevada families lost more than a $2.7 billion last year! Or, to put it another way, the amount that Nevada women are short-changed would have been nearly $1 billion more than the state budget deficit during the last legislative session according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

According to NPWF, if the wage gap were eliminated in Nevada (PDF) it would mean any one of these things:

  • 56 weeks of more food on the table (more than a year’s worth!)
  • Four more months of mortgage and utilities paid
  • Eight more months of rent!
  • 26 months (or more than two YEARS) of family health insurance premiums
  • More than 1,800 additional gallons of gas

The wage gap is hurting us all. The only way for a healthy future for Nevada is for the wage gap to end!

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