This past Tuesday, we celebrated Equal Pay Day, which strives to bring awareness to the disparity in wages between men and women. Placing the holiday on a Tuesday was chosen intentionally to represent the fact that women must work one week and into Tuesday of the next week to make the equivalent of what men make in just one week of work. While the gender pay gap has narrowed somewhat since the 1970s, progress has recently stalled.According to the most recently available statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American woman working full-time, year-round was paid just 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is not doing much better than the national average. According to the American Association of University Women, men in Wisconsin working a full-time job earned $46,214 on average compared to women doing equal work, who earned just $35,890 on average for an earnings ratio of just 78%.This means that women in Wisconsin earn, on average, $10,000 less than men each year. If the gender wage gap were eliminated, a working woman receiving equal pay for equal work in Wisconsin would have enough money for one of the following:
- 86 more weeks of food
- 7 more months of mortgage and utility payments
- 14 more months of rent
- 2,799 additional gallons of gasThe fight for equal paychecks is not just a fight for women, but a fight for the health of Wisconsin's middle-class families. Approximately 229,080 households in Wisconsin are headed by women. Additionally, the majority of all women are either primary or co-breadwinners in their family. Therefore, the pay gap also has a negative impact to the tune of roughly $10,000 on Wisconsin women, men and children alike, and may even prevent these families from joining or remaining part of our middle class.In 2009, Wisconsin led the nation by passing the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, legislation to give gender discrimination victims an avenue on the state level to recoup damages and deter bad actors from such undesirable actions. Before the Act, Wisconsin ranked 36th in the country when it came to closing the gender pay gap. Just a year after the law passed, Wisconsin's ranking improved by 12 spots, moving to 24th in the nation.Shocking the state, all legislative Republicans rejected Wisconsin's tradition of fairness by voting to roll back equal protection laws for Wisconsin's working women by passing 2011 Wisconsin Act 219 last session. The adoption of this proposal eliminates equal protection laws for Wisconsin's women and limits their ability to seek justice for discrimination. This bill not only halted much needed steps towards equal pay for women, but also erased prior advances that have been made. As a result, Wisconsin's women have been sent backwards.Earlier this week, my Democratic colleagues, Senator Hansen and Representative Sinicki, officially introduced legislation to correct the mistake Republicans made last session and re-adopt the Equal Pay Enforcement Act. I have signed on as a co-sponsor of this legislation and look forward to supporting this fairness bill should it reach the Senate floor for a vote this session.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The following is from State Senator Chris Larson in his weekly newsletter: