Laura Dresser, Ph.D, the Associate Director of COWS (Center on Wisconsin Strategy) spoke at the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice Breakfast February 13th, 2017 in Madison. Laura Dresser is a co-editor of The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market. She is addressing issues on the connection between quality care, quality jobs, and minimum wages.

In her speech, Laura Dresser addressed the issue of the wage inequity working women face in the labor force.

***Women are paid less than a man for doing the exact same job.

***Women spend more time outside of the labor market.

***Women choose different careers that define and constrain them further.

***Women’s inequality in the economy and in politics is meant to divide us further.

***We have tolerated racist inequality and wage inequality far too long. Ms. Dresser encourages us to join the Fight for $15. In 2017, it is time we realize “The State” will not solve our problems. We must change “The State” and find a way toward justice.

Research reveals the income inequity gap and the toll it takes on women and their families.

A woman who works for 40 years at a full-time job loses $435,480 in life-time income (in today’s dollars—Feb. 2016) due to the wage gap. In other words a woman needs to work 11 years longer than a man to achieve “accumulated income parity.”

In Wisconsin, data from April 2016 show men’s median annual income is $47,518 and women’s median income is $37,481 creating a wage gap of 21%. These figures are based on income from a full-time, year-round job. Wisconsin is 31st in income inequality with just 19 states having a larger wage gap.

This wage gap for a woman amounts to a gap of $10,037 each year. Multiply the $10,037 wage gap by:

***30 years is $301,110.

***20 years is $200, 740.

***10 years is $100,370.

Our neighbor to the west, Minnesota has a median income of $51,625 for men and $42,066 with a wage gap of 19%. Minnesota’s ranking is 18 for the wage gap. 42 states have a larger wage gap.

The wage gap for women of color in Wisconsin who hold down full-time, year-round jobs is more pronounced: African American women are paid 61 cents, Latinas are paid 53 cents and Asian women are paid 65 cents for every dollar paid to a man.

Wisconsin women, on average, who are employed full time lose a combined total of more than $8.3 billion every year because of the gap in wages.

Women, their families, businesses and the economy suffer.

If the annual wage gap were eliminated, on average, a working woman in Wisconsin would have enough money for approximately:

***76 more weeks of food for her family;

***Seven more months of mortgage or utilities payments; or

***Nearly 13 more months of rent.

In Wisconsin, nearly 239,000 family households are headed by women. About 32% of those families, or 75,914 family households, have incomes that fall below the poverty line.

Nationally, the wage gap persists regardless of industry.

***In healthcare and social assistance, women are paid 71 cents for every dollar men are paid.

***In manufacturing, women are paid 75 cents.

***In retail 78 cents.

***In educational services 87 cents.

The wage gap is present within occupations.

***In sales, women are paid 62 cents.

***In production, women are paid 66 cents.

***In management, women are paid 80 cents.

The wage gap exists regardless of educational level.

***Women with Masters Degrees working full time, year around are paid 72 cents to one dollar men are paid.

Discrimination and bias still contribute to the wage gap.

***62 percent of the wage gap can be attributed to occupational and industry differences; differences in experience and education; and factors such as race, region, and unionization.

***38 percent of the gap is unaccounted for, leading researchers to conclude that factors such as discrimination and unconscious bias continue to affect women’s wages.

In Wisconsin, the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act was repealed by Republicans in April 2012 along a party-line vote. Wisconsin is just one of five states without equal pay laws.

In April 2014, Republicans in the U.S. Senate rejected the equal pay bill proposed by Democrats.

On a personal note: My husband and I graduated from the same University with the same degree, and we began teaching in the same school district in 1966. My husband was paid $100 more a month because he was “the bread winner.”

The next article will address Occupational Segregation, the tendency for women and men to work in different fields with different levels of compensation.

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