The lifelong impact of the gender wage gap

Tuesday, April 4 is Equal Pay Day -- the day that marks how far into this year full-time women had to work to earn what their male counterparts earned last year. 

 

A new study finds that in the U.S., women on average have to work 50 years to earn what men earn in 40 years for the same or similar work.

 

A 20-year-old woman just starting full-time work today stands to lose nearly $420,000 over a 40-year career compared to her male counterpart -- that's more than $10,000 a year lost, simply because she's a woman. 

 

While her male counterpart can retire at age 60 after 40 years of work, she would have to work until age 70 -- beyond Social Security's full retirement age of 67 -- to close that gap.

 

In Pennsylvania, the wage gap costs women $430,480 over a 40-year career compared to a man. A woman in Pennsylvania has to work until she is 71 years old just to earn what a man does by the time he is 60.

 

Most middle-class families today depend on two incomes to meet household expenses, raise their kids and send them to college, and prepare for retirement.

 

They depend on women's wages more than ever before -- but companies and businesses that refuse to pay women the same as men are cheating these working women and their families out of nearly half a million dollars over their career. Not only is that unfair and wrong -- it's economically short-sighted.

 

Ending the wage gap would allow more families to realize financial security. More income for thousands of families in Pennsylvania would also boost our economy and help our communities thrive.

 

It's 2017 -- long past time for Pennsylvania to end wage discrimination based on gender and require corporations and businesses to pay women the same wage for the same work.

 

Republicans in the state Senate are pushing legislation they say addresses the wage gap, but it actually would scuttle the work many municipalities are already doing to ensure equal pay for women -- stripping thousands of workers of the protections they already have been granted at the local level.

 

Republicans in the legislature should stop focusing on undoing what local governments have already done in the face of their inaction.

 

Instead, they should join Democrats in advancing and passing strong statewide equal pay legislation to end the wage gap and reduce its harmful financial impact on women, their families and our economy.