Tomorrow, April 17, is Equal Pay Day. As explained in this Miami Herald op-ed, in the U.S., women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The cumulative effect of this wage gap is devastating:
The ability of women to retire is affected. The Center for American Progress estimates that a typical woman would lose $434,000 over a 40-year period due to the wage gap. Economist Evelyn Murphy, president of The WAGE Project, estimates that the wage gap costs the average American full-time woman worker between $700,000 and $2 million over the course of her lifetime. Lower lifetime earnings mean lower Social Security benefits for women.
President Obama's statement on Equal Pay Day stressed both progress and continuing inequality:
When the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, women earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. Though women today are more likely than men to attend and graduate from college, women still earn an average of only about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Even when accounting for factors such as experience, education, industry, and hours, this wage gap persists. Over the course of her lifetime, this gap will cost a woman and her family lost wages, reduced pensions, and diminished Social Security benefits. Though we have made great strides, wage discrimination is real and women are still more likely to live in poverty. These inequities remind us to work even harder to close the gaps that still exist.