Hoosier Economy Why equal pay for Hoosier women matters

Why equal pay for Hoosier women matters

On April 14 or Equal Pay Day, Hoosier women finally earned what their male colleagues made in 2014. It took women 104 additional days – 469 in total – to earn what men earned in 2014.

The impact of gender income inequality is even more acute considering that a record number of women are participating in the workforce and 63 percent of women serve as the primary or co-primary earner in Hoosier households, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.

Indiana has the ninth worst wage gap in the nation. In 2013, women earned just 75 cents for every dollar men made according to a report from the Status of Women in the States. Hispanic and African American women earned even less. Even when economists control for factors like education, occupation and hours worked, a substantial gender pay gap still exists. That same report showed a greater percentage of women earned the lowest incomes in the labor market while a greater share of men earned the highest wages.

So what does pay inequality look like around kitchen tables? A 2014 study from the American Association of University Women found the gender pay gap costs women on average $210,000 over the span of a 35-year career. Motherhood also creates a larger wage gap. Women between the ages of 20 and 24 earn 89 percent of men’s median weekly earning rates, but that number drops to 78 percent in women between the ages of 35 and 44 according to a study from the American Association of University Women. Paying women a salary equal to men working comparable jobs would have injected $448 billion into the United States’ economy in 2012.  As many as 42.5 million women – 60 percent of all working women – would have received a raise according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Senate Democrats have taken clear action on closing the pay gap, offering legislation outlawing wage discrimination and creating a mechanism for Hoosier women to recoup lost wages. Led by Assistant Democratic Leader Jean D. Breaux, Senate Democrats know working women can’t wait until 2086 – when economists estimate women’s salaries will catch up to men’s in Indiana. Efforts to include equal pay legislation in the state’s operating budget were rejected on a party-line vote as recently as this week.