That is the question on deck this Equal Pay Day, the annual day that marks how far into the following year a woman has to work to earn the same wages as a man does in one calendar year. To put it another way a woman has to work one full quarter of a year longer than a man to make the same wage.
This year, the National Women’s Law Center’s Blog for Equal Pay Day blog carnival is asking us to answer the question: What would you do with your lost $11,000? Because that’s how much money the average white woman loses each year in lost wages. And this issue of wage inequality is a systemic problem that goes far beyond sexism alone. While white women earn approximately 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, while black women earn 64 cents and Hispanic women earn 55 cents to every dollar. It’s not just gender inequality we’re dealing with, it’s racism, too!
Considering not much has changed since last year, we can look at some ways those numbers have already been crunched. 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
For information on other states and the most recent reports on the wage gap, check out this new report by AAUW.
But perhaps that’s too abstract. What would I do with 11,000 extra dollars in my pocket? Well, I spend about $7,000 a year on childcare for my toddler, so that would be a good place to start. But I’d probably save it for the much higher preschool costs — averaging between $4,400 and $13,100 a year — I’m anticipating after my child turns three this summer.
Then again, I might want to put that money toward out-of-pocket medical expenses for myself or for family members. A recent Journal of General Internal Medicine reported that, on average, people with Medicare coverage paid $38,688 for medical care between 200-2008. And a quarter of those surveyed for the study spent nearly $102,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.
It strikes me as I research what I could do with $11,000 that none of my ideas have anything to do with doing fun things like going on a vacation or buying a new car. That’s because my family, like so many other, could really use more money to pay for the necessities of life and to provide a better future for my child.
Indeed, there are a lot of ways that women and families could spend an extra $11,000, except, it’s not really “extra” when it’s actually been stolen by wage inequalities.
Want to talk more about this issue? Join me for the Equal Pay Day tweet chat, hosted by the National Women’s Law Center, on Tuesday, April 9 at 10 am (1 pm ET). Use the #TalkPay hashtag or just follow me @TheSinCitySiren.