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Gender Pay Gap Persists for Washington Women

Working women in Washington state make 77 cents for every dollar men make. (calgrin/morguefile)
Working women in Washington state make 77 cents for every dollar men make. (calgrin/morguefile)
April 12, 2016

SEATTLE - It's Equal Pay Day, symbolizing how far into 2016 women would need to work in order to make the same amount men did in 2015.

On average, women earn 79 cents for every dollar men are paid. In Washington, the average is lower, just 77 cents.

Marilyn Watkins, policy director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, says on closer examination of the state's highest-paying jobs, the picture looks even more skewed.

"In both the high-tech field and in aerospace," says Watkins. "About 75 percent of the workforce is male."

Watkins say the wage gap is even wider for women of color in Washington.

For instance, a black woman would have to work until Sept. 23 of this year in order to make what a white man made in 2015.

Watkins says ballot Initiative 1433 to increase the minimum wage would be a significant step for women, who are more likely than men to work in low-paying jobs.

Opponents claim it would cost employers money and lead to layoffs.

Paid leave is also part of I-1433. Paid-leave laws are already on the books in five states and Watkins believes they're important for everyone, from pregnant women to workers who take care of sick family members.

"Just like states already have unemployment insurance and workers compensation, we can set up a program similar to that here in Washington state, and we're working very hard to make that happen," says Watkins.

Mothers are also hard-hit by the wage gap. According to the National Women's Law Center, working mothers make about 70 cents for every dollar working fathers make.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA