Thursday, July 17, 2014

Advocates say closing the gender pay gap will improve women’s safety net

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 2:33 PM

click image The Equal Pay Act was signed over 50 years ago, yet women are still fighting for pay equity. - WIKIPEDIA.ORG
  • The Equal Pay Act was signed over 50 years ago, yet women are still fighting for pay equity.
Women are still fighting to be paid equally to men more than 50 years after the enactment of the Equal Pay Act.

Social Security Works representatives and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) held a conference call this morning to discuss how unequal pay has a detrimental effect on women’s economic and retirement security.

After 35 years of work, the average gap between men and women is $434,000 said Stephanie Connolly, Legislative & Policy Associate for Social Security Works.

“There is no doubt that the pay gap threatens women economic security,” Connolly said. “Women's lower earnings limits their ability to save for retirement. Because social security benefits are based on lifetime earnings, the pay gap also lowers women's retirement benefits.”

In 2012, women in the workforce earned less than their male counterparts—about 77 cents to every dollar a man makes.
This significant difference limits women’s Social Security protections, their retirement security and their ability to save money.

We have to close the gender pay gap as soon as possible, Research Director for Social Security Works Ben Veghte said.

“[Pay equity is] one of the last remaining major civil rights battles that remains to be fought in this country,” Veghte said. “Closing the gender pay gap would certainly help women today make ends meet during their working years. It would also help women enhance their retirement security.”

According to Veghte, some other benefits to pay equity include: additional discretionary income to save money, better women’s disability, life and unemployment insurance protection, and improved protections for disadvantaged women.

“Women… of same-sex relationships or women who live alone when they retire, are major victims of the inequality of pay during their working years,” Veghte said. “They don't have partners who have more privileged incomes during their lifetime to balance out the family finances.”

Ensuring that women get paid equally to men will also improve Social Security’s finances.

“With that additional income that women would be earning, they would be paying more payroll tax into the Social Security Trust Fund so it would improve the system's finances,” Veghte said. “According to one estimate, it could reduce the long-term short falls of Social Security by roughly one-third, producing tens of billions of additional revenue each year.”

Both women and men have been trying to find a solution to the unequal pay issue regarding women’s wages and income. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was the first step towards equal pay for women.

There’s still more that has to be done in order to ensure that women can earn the same amount as men who work similar jobs.

Veghte listed the following policies and legislations that will help society enhance women’s economic security:
  • Paycheck Fairness Act – A proposed legislation that would add extra protections to the Equal Pay Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The legislation will “revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages”, according to Congress.
  • Paid Family Leave – This law was enacted to provide individuals with disability compensation who take time off to take care of a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, registered domestic partner, or to bond with a newborn child.
  • Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act – This legislation ensures that people will have some sort of income during family or medical leave. It provides workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income while they take time off for their own serious health condition, like pregnancy or childbirth recovery. It will also provide income if workers have to take time off to take care of an ill child, parent, spouse or domestic partner; or, after the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Increase minimum wage to $10.10/hour – This, in itself, would improve the wages of many women in this county. “Actually, 4.8 million working mothers [would benefit], which would improve both their income and their retirement security because with that additional income, they would pay more into social security,” Veghte said.
Congresswoman DeLauro has been a strong advocate of pay equity, after sponsoring many laws like the FAMILY Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Same job same pay, she says.

“Let's make sure women are being paid as much as men for the very same jobs. It helps women and their families now, into the future and into their retirement,” DeLauro said. “It is time to get this done. We can do it. Congress has the power and the potential to make this difference in the lives of families.”

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