What’s the State of Your Pay Gap?

Fair pay isn’t dead. It’s on the rebound. Here’s what President Obama just said about it, and how you can find out what the gap is where you live.

The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed by the Senate when it went down in the House in late November. Hardly anyone noticed it fall in the post-election debris, but President Obama resurrected it in Saturday’s radio address.

In one of my first acts as President, I signed a law so that women who’ve been discriminated against in their salaries could have their day in court to make it right.  [He’s referring here to the Lilly Ledbetter Act.] But there are steps we should take to prevent that from happening in the first place.  That’s why I was so disappointed when an important bill to give women more power to stop pay disparities – the Paycheck Fairness Act – was blocked by just two votes in the Senate.  And that’s why I’m going to keep up the fight to pass the reforms in that bill.  “

I’ll stay on this to tell you what he means by “pass the reforms in that bill.” I’m guessing that elements of the bill will be stitched into other bills. That’s ok:  paycheck patchwork can keep us just as warm, in the end.

If you’re needing a bit of motivation to keep caring, this ought to do it. The latest data dump from the Census Bureau includes a handy tool for comparing median and average earnings by state and major metro. I live in Chicago, so let’s dig a bit in the rich loam of the Prairie State for some numerical nuggest.

 On average, Illinois women earn 69% of that of Illinois men .(Women earn an average of $46,015 annually, and men, $67,222.)

No problem! Get more education!  Gals, you can bump your pay to $52,969 by getting  a graduate degree!  Sure, you’ll make more…but the guys will still make even more: $80,306. That’s a pay gap of 34%.  Wait a minute. The more education you get, the bigger the gap? ‘Fraid so…that’s partly due to age, experience and mothering. Young women start nearly even, but the gap opens early and keeps widening, and education can’t bridge it.

Don’t worry: the Institute for Women’s Policy Research says that if you hang in there long enough, the pay gap will close: by 2056. Equal pay for great-granddaughters!

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