Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Would You Do with an Extra $434,000?

Just imagine what you could accumulate with an extra $434,000 in earnings over a lifetime...

3 Houses in the Midwest Region of the US
(The median home price in the Midwest was $131,000 as of 4/8/09 according to the National Association of Realtors)
9.5 Years of Ivy League Education
(Assuming that the average Ivy League Tuition & Room and Board is $45,000 a year)
15 New Cars
(The average price of a new car according to the National Automobile Dealers Association)
$2.5 Million Dollars in Additional Retirement Savings
(If the $10, 850 in annual lost salary for the average women was invested into a retirement savings that yielded 8% return annually before retirement---Bloomberg retirement plan calculator)

April 28, 2009 is Equal Pay Day. This date is significant because it marks the extra days and months into 2009 that the average women would need to work to “catch-up” to the average salary of a man in 2008.

When a women’s job, even within the exact same field, with the exact same hours and obligations as a the same role occupied by a man, yields 12% less income, one obviously wonders why the issue can be so easily ignored. As illustrated above, the female worker has an average career wage gap of $434,000-----ranging from $270,000 for a women with less than a high school education to $713,000 for a women with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, staggering figures that have directly affect a family’s well-being over the long-term. Pay equity is not only an issue of improving the economic security of our families, but also placing value and dignity in the critical roles of every member of society and the contributions they make.

According to Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress at an Equal Pay Day Panel, the implications of salary inequity are becoming even more evident in the current economic crisis. Nearly 80% of the 5.1 Million jobs lost since the start of the recession have been occupied by men; and because men earn 2/3rds of a family’s income on average, when a women becomes the “breadwinner” of their household, they are expected to support 100% of their family’s financial needs with a salary that had previously only been 1/3rd of their household’s income.

Although we may not be able to change the root causes for workplace wage inequity without changing the stereotypes and social factors that define women and “pink collar” jobs (a term used by Lisa Maatz at the American Association of University Women), we can use political will to change policies and laws to be more family friendly. The most important legislation pending in Congress for women is the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182), and I encourage you ask your Senators to support this bill by calling (202) 224-3121 (a switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request). You can learn more about the bill’s history at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-1338.

As Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a committed advocate and legislator who has been working to pass pay equity legislation since getting elected to Congress 12 years ago says of our country’s current political and economic state, “Inertia is a powerful force, and the political will is with us on fair pay…the window of opportunity is open, and we must march through the window now.”

Need a primer on Equal Pay Day 2009 and the Wage Gap?
Check out the Center for American Progress’ insightful overview: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/04/equal_pay_day.html

Wage Gap by the Numbers:

Previous posting on pay inequity of professions dominated by women:

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