The Fairfield Daily, 11/28/2011
By Richard Weizel
FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – There’s good news and bad news for women working in Connecticut.
The good news is that Connecticut women have the highest full-time median income of any state in the country. The bad news is that female workers in the state are making less than they did four years ago. Their salaries have declined 4 percent since 2007 in a state where the price of everything from housing, gas and food prices to health care and day care has risen dramatically and is among the highest in the nation.
Also, the salary gap between women and their male counterparts – which had narrowed considerably by 2007 — has widened again and is growing larger, according to new data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In 2010, women earned a median weekly income of $835 full-time pay, which is 76 percent of the $1,101 made by their male counterparts. That is down from 79.5 percent in 2007.
The numbers also show that Connecticut had the second-worst wage gender gap in 2010 among the six New England states, according to the Hartford Business Journal.
Nationwide, women in 2010 earned $669 weekly, or about 81 percent of the $824 median income for men in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The fact that women in Connecticut have the highest median income in the country is quite misleading,” said Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, a state agency that helps establish public policy for women.
“Even four years ago when the gap was closing, it wasn’t because women were earning more, it was because men were making less,” said Younger. “The growing disparity between what women earn and men is a very disturbing trend. The gap should be closing, not growing larger.”
The economic downturn has hit women harder than men, Younger said, pointing out that men’s median income in 2010 was $1.54 for each dollar women received. “Some of this is a result of the economy, as both men and women who lose their jobs are being forced to take new jobs that pay less,” Younger said.
“But if we look at the fields that are the highest paying and most open to females, we can see why women are being impacted by the recession even more than men,” she said.
Younger said although members of both sexes have had to take jobs with lower pay during the recession, traditional fields where women have significant numbers, such as education and health care, have seen dramatic cuts.
Job losses related to the finance field have also hurt women most, she said. “When women lose jobs in finance and business that are the most high paying, they are often forced to take far lowing paying jobs with reduced or no health benefits,” said Younger. “Many of these jobs are hourly — so the employer can keep the work week to 35 hours or less, which also reduces income.”
Younger pointed out that while the pay disparity between men and women has narrowed over the past few decades, men often still earn more money than women for the same job.
She said official data shows that whether they are sales clerks and servers or CEOs and surgeons, “Overall, women earn less than men doing the same work.”