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State Rep: Women Can't Bank On Equal Pay For Equal Work

April 28, 2009

Lansing, MI - Equal pay for equal work is not something a Michigan woman can take to the bank. Nationally, on average, women earn only 78 cents for every dollar made by a man, doing the same job. In Michigan, the woman's pay is even lower, at 72 cents, compared to a man's.

Today is "Equal Pay Day," emphasizing that it takes a woman nearly four months into 2009 for her paycheck to "catch up" to what the average man earned in 2008. Michigan State Rep. Joan Bauer (D-Lansing) introduces equal pay legislation today in the House of Representatives - because, she says, this discrepancy means so much less money for household needs.

"Wage discrimination can cost a woman and her family $700,000 over a lifetime, and it means that children suffer, there's less money to spend on educating your kids."

The lifetime difference between college-educated men and women is estimated to be even higher, at $1.2 million. Opponents of state equal-pay legislation say it's unnecessary, because there is already a federal equal pay law. However, says Bauer, it will take Michigan women until 2057 to finally reach pay equity without a state law. In the meantime, she advises both women and their employers to make changes that will help bridge the wage gap.

"We're less comfortable about our own worth and negotiating, so women need to step up and take responsibility for that piece. But then, also, the workplace absolutely needs to be more responsive to really evaluating their positions."

Bauer also introduced equal pay legislation in the 2007 session.

Tony Bruscato, Public News Service - MI