Along with being Tax Day, it's also Equal Pay Day. In fairness, I didn't realize this until stumbling on a story from the Puget Sound Business Journal. But that doesn't make it any less important. Women in Washington earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and the National Committee on Pay Equity uses Equal Pay Day to draw attention to this injustice - nationwide, not just in our state. Today's date symbolizes how far into 2012 women had to work to earn the same thing men earned in 2011.
In Washington, the median pay for a woman working full time, year round is $40,246 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $52,080. This means that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $11,834 between full-time working men and women in the state. Women of color experience even greater disparities. African American women working full time in Washington are paid just 69 cents for every dollar paid to all men, which amounts to a difference of $16,273 per year. Latinas fare worse, being paid just 51 cents on the dollar, or $25,540 less than all men per year of employment.
Nationally, women working full time, year round are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to all men. African American women are paid 62 cents and Latinas are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that this pay discrepancy can be molded into some pretty alarming statistics. The National Partnership for Women release states that as a group, women in Washington lose approximately $10,225,392,546 each year due to the wage gap. This lost income, the release says, could pay for 90 more weeks of food, seven more months of mortgage and utilities payments, 13 more months of rent, 39 more months of family health insurance premiums or 2,861 more gallons of gas.
Created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), Equal Pay Day rallies participants from across the country and often is coordinated with a political lobbying effort. For instance, in 2010 the NCPE used the day to promote the Paycheck Fairness Act, and last year's event was used to honor the citizens of Wisconsin for "defending public workers' rights -- the root of fair pay," according to the NCPE website.
Participants this year were urged by the NCPE to wear red to "symbolize how far women and minorities are 'in the red' with their pay."