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Nebraska Women Still Earning Less Than Men

Researchers say equal pay would cut poverty among working women and their families by more than half. (Pixabay)
Researchers say equal pay would cut poverty among working women and their families by more than half. (Pixabay)
April 10, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – Today is Equal Pay Day, symbolizing how far into 2018 women would need to work in order to make the same amount men did in 2017.

Women in 2018 are expected to earn about 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn. But according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, equal pay would cut poverty among working women and their families by more than half, while adding $513 billion to the economy.

According to Jill Heggen, communications director for the Women's Fund of Omaha, it's an important issue to address, for families and communities.

"If we were able to pay men and women the same, we would lift people out of poverty," Heggen explained. "So, they would have more money for child care, more money for housing, more money for food security – and all of these things would support working families."

President of the National Organization for Women, Toni Van Pelt, noted that the pay gap is worse for women of color, with black women earning just 63 percent of what their white male counterparts are paid, and Latino women just 60 percent. She added she is troubled by how slowly the gap is narrowing.

"When we first started talking about this, the average, full-time working woman was earning 59 cents, on average. So, in 55 years, it's only closed by 18 cents," she said. "That's a rate of less than half a penny a year."

However, with increased awareness, more companies are stepping up and exposing pay disparities between male and female workers. Heggen said she encourages workers to advocate for paid leave, wage audits and pay-transparency policies.

"These are steps that companies can take, and they're steps that employees can demand of their companies," Heggen said.
"And even if there aren't policies in place, we have a voice, especially in Nebraska, to use that to step up, to speak up."

Women in Nebraska who work full-time have median annual earnings of about $36,000, which is 75 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts. And if current trends continue, the wage gap in Nebraska will not close until 2066.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE