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New Mexico Stands Up for Equal Pay for Women

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As a group, women who are employed full-time in New Mexico lose more than $2 billion a year due to the wage gap.

Women with full-time jobs are paid nearly 79 cents for every $1 paid to men - a yearly gap of more than $8,700 in a woman's paychecks. It's part of what Rep. Brian Egolf Jr., D-Santa Fe, hoped to address in this New Mexico legislative session with the Fair Pay for Women Act.

"Gender-based pay discrimination is not illegal in New Mexico, under state law," Egolf said.

Egolf's bill changes state law to support pay equity and make filing a claim more geographically convenient, and prohibits retaliation for making or helping to file a pay-discrimination claim. House Bill 216 was signed into law in mid-March and will take effect in June.

The pace may be slow, said Ona Porter, chief executive of Prosperity Works, but Equal Pay Day shines a bright light on the status of women's pay and highlights some improvement in places such as big box stores. However, she said, occupational segregation is another obstacle women face.

"We have made very little progress in that arena," she said, "We're still shuffling women into low-paid jobs. The jobs that traditionally are held by women are still the most underpaid sector that we have."

Porter said it's estimated that pay parity won't come until 2056 if the pace of change doesn't improve.

For the most part, people favor pay equity, said Susan Loubet, executive director of New Mexico Women's Agenda, adding that they want their mothers and sisters, wives and daughters to be paid equally for the same work as are their male counterparts.

"Now, we just have to get everyone talking about it, everyone understanding that it's still an issue and understanding how to do something about it," she said, "bringing the inequity out into the open."

The text of HB 216 is online at nmlegis.gov. New Mexico figures from the National Partnership for Women and Families are at nationalpartnership.org.


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