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How to Cut WV Poverty Rate? Pay Women More

In half of families with young children, women are working. But a new report confirms many aren't making as much as men doing the same jobs. (Unsplash/Pixabay)
In half of families with young children, women are working. But a new report confirms many aren't making as much as men doing the same jobs. (Unsplash/Pixabay)
May 15, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – How many moms asked for equal pay for Mother's Day?

In a new report, the Institute for Women's Policy Research compared incomes of women and men of the same ages and education levels, working the same number of hours.

It found for West Virginia, women would see their average earnings increase almost $6,500 a year if paid the same as men.

And, since women are now breadwinners in half of American families with young children, the report says 26 million children across the U.S. also would benefit from their moms making more.

So, study director Jessica Milli says closing the gender wage gap is much more than a women's issue.

"The additional income that equal pay would add to family incomes would reduce the poverty rate among children by nearly half, and so that was also a really striking finding from our analysis," she states.

The report says closing the pay gap would reduce the poverty rate in West Virginia from 8.5 percent to 5.3 percent, and add about $2.5 billion annually to the state's economy.

Now, on average, a woman would have to work 10 years longer than a man to close the pay gap.

Milli adds the gap isn't always a result of intentional unfairness – it's partly because more women work in jobs that have traditionally paid less.

She says states and Congress could do more to modernize pay-related laws.

"Legislation that prohibits employers from asking potential new hires for their salary histories when they're thinking about making an offer to them would have a huge impact on pay equality between men and women," she states.

Milli notes closing the pay gap would boost the entire U.S. economy, adding $500 billion a year nationally.

For now, women earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, which translates to a loss that tops $415,000 dollars over a 40-year career.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WV