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Report: She Works Hard(er) for the Money

PHOTO: Are women paid less than the men in your company? About half of U.S. workers are not allowed to discuss their pay with coworkers. PHOTO CREDIT: iStockphoto.com.
PHOTO: Are women paid less than the men in your company? About half of U.S. workers are not allowed to discuss their pay with coworkers. PHOTO CREDIT: iStockphoto.com.
April 9, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Today is Equal Pay Day, the point at which the average pay for a woman in the U.S. catches up to the average of what a man made last year.

A new report analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data is a reminder that the wage gap between the sexes persists. It says Utah women earn 69 cents per hour for every dollar paid to men, a gap of more than $14,000 a year for a full-time worker.

According to Sarah Crawford with the National Partnership for Women and Families, Utah has one of the largest pay disparities in the nation.

"We see smaller wage gaps in states like Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, where the wage gap is more like 13 cents or 14 cents on the dollar," she said, "versus states like Wyoming, Louisiana, Utah, where the wage gap is more like 31 cents on the dollar."

Crawford noted that the federal Equal Pay Act turns 50 this summer. Her group wants an update, with changes that include requiring employers to prove their reasons for pay differences and not allowing them to retaliate against workers for discussing their pay.

"About half of the workforce is subject to policies that could lead to discipline or even firing for voluntary discussions of pay with coworkers," Crawford said. "If you can't talk about your pay, how can you find out about pay discrimination?"

Some bipartisan support exists in Congress for a new Paycheck Fairness Act, she added, although it was blocked by procedural votes in 2010 and again last year.

For more than 90,000 Utah households headed by women, Crawford says the wage gap is of particular concern.

"Over 15 million households in the United States are headed by women, and 31 percent of those households live in poverty," she said. "Eliminating the wage gap would provide critical income to those women and their families."

The report says the wage gap is more pronounced for women of color, with Latina women making 55 cents for every dollar earned by a white man and African-American women making 64 cents.

The report is available at www.nationalpartnership.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - UT