New report reveals huge disparity in gender wage gap in Louisiana
31st March 2014 · 0 Comments
By Kari Harden
Women in the United States earn less than men for the same work, and Louisiana’s gender wage gap is the second worst in the nation.
On average, women in the U.S. working full-time, year-round in 2012 earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.For African-American women, it was 64 cents to every dollar earned by white men, and 54 cent to the dollar for Hispanic women.
In Louisiana, the disparity is larger, with women earning an average of 67 cents to every dollar earned by men.
African American women in Louisiana in 2012 earned 49 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and Hispanic women earned 57 cents for every dollar.
Nationally, the pay gap translated into women earning $11,600 less each year. In Louisiana, women earned $15,600 less annually as compared to their male counterparts.
These numbers, and a much more in-depth inquiry into the gender wage gap, is part of a report recently published by the Louisiana Fair Pay Task Force, which was created in 2013 under the passage of House Concurrent Resolution 145 by Louisiana Legislature.
Seeking to “prevent and eliminate these disparities,” the report presents extensive data on the extent of the gap and identifies factors that cause or worsen the gender disparities. It also details the consequences to both the economy and to families, and presents recommendations for policy change and legislation to narrow the gap and inequality.
“Job Segregation in the Workforce” was listed as the first of three major factors contributing to the disparity.
According to the report, women are underrepresented in the Louisiana’s high-demand, higher-paying industries, and overrepresented in lower-paying industries. Women also were shown to make less than men even in fields they dominate and hold fewer of the leadership positions.
While women account for 66 percent of the people in the U.S. earning minimum wage or less, women account for 70 percent in Louisiana.
The report lists the second contributing factor as “Childcare and Family Responsibilities,” and the third as “Gender Discrimination.”
With the second-largest pay gap in the country, the report details the gap’s consequences that are detrimental for women in Louisiana in both the short term and the long term.
Earning less while doing the same job, it is more difficult for women than men to save, continue education, invest, and achieve financial stability. With women making up an increasing percentage of the workforce and often acting as the breadwinners, their children are also being deprived of access to a brighter future.
There are also negative effects to both government and business, as the report details: “Government loses twofold by bearing the cost of assisting with the needs of low income families, and losing tax revenue that would be generated by higher wages.”
Businesses lose, according to the report, by losing overall profits that would have been produced were women receiving equal pay. Making up 50 percent of the workforce, women earning equal wages in 2012 would have added an additional income of $447.6 billion to the U.S. economy. In addition, unfairness and secrecy in the workplace resulted in lower employee retention and productivity.
The report puts forward four recommendations to through policy and legislation address the disparity and institutionalized practice of paying women less for equal work.
First, they recommend the creation of a Commission on Fair Pay that will be tasked with, among other efforts, improving enforcement of existing laws, requiring state contractors to comply to fair pay laws, studying wage increases, and encouraging employers to provide affordable day care.
The second recommendation seeks to improve employment discrimination law, and the third is to re-evaluate public sector pay. While the pay gap is wider for women working in private sector for-profit jobs, in the public sector (local, state, and federal government jobs) women are still earning about 25 cents less per dollar than their male counterparts.
Finally, the report recommends that state agencies develop a plan that will improve access to high-demand, high-wage jobs for women through education, outreach, training, and recruitment.
This article originally published in the March 31, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.