By Lee Howard
The gender wage gap in Connecticut has narrowed substantially over the years, but women still make only 78 cents for every dollar men earn in the state, according to a report released Wednesday by a statewide organization.
The Permanent Committee on the Status of Women said in its report, “The Status of Women in Connecticut’s Workforce,” that women in the state have made “significant advances” in such areas as labor force participation and representation in managerial positions. But the report also pointed to discrepancies between women’s educational attainment and their earning power compared with men’s.
“Women in Connecticut … continue to face persistent disparities and inequities that often prevent them from reaching their full potential,” according to the report.
The report noted that Connecticut currently ranks fourth among all states in terms of women’s employment and earnings. But it pointed to a narrower but consistent wage gap, limited availability of affordable child care and a divide among women’s advances in various ethic categories as persistent problems.
“Addressing such challenges and disparities is essential to the continued advancement of women and to the well-being of Connecticut as a whole,” the report said.
In 1979, women in the state earned only 55.6 cents for every dollar made by men. But the earnings ratio has narrowed since then, though the gap is almost always slightly higher in Connecticut than for the nation as a whole, according to the report.
The key takeaway from the report, said Toni Moran, chair of the Permanent Committee on the Status of Women, is that there are “multiple Connecticuts” – the overall picture being relatively good, but the urban centers struggling. Surprisingly, the gender gap is most pronounced among the more well-to-do, Moran pointed out, with top-earning families in Connecticut seeing median male incomes of $140,000 vs. median female incomes of $70,000.
Among the policy implications of the report, Moran said in a phone interview, is the question of how to compensate people who need to take time off to care for a family member and how to make child care and preschool more affordable, perhaps through government subsidies or a boost in initiatives by progressive employers. Improving the earned-income tax credit, raising the minimum wage and instituting government-established retirement programs also would be a boon for women, she said.
“Women’s jobs have been traditionally undervalued,” Moran said.
KEY FINDINGS IN STATE REPORT
• 63 percent of women were in Connecticut’s workforce in 2012, compared with 59 percent nationally.
• Women’s unemployment rate in Connecticut of 7.7 percent in 2012 was lower than for the rest of the nation.
• Women’s median wage in Connecticut of $46,800 was significantly higher than the nation’s median for women of $37,000, but far lower than the $60,000 earned by male counterparts.
• White women in the state had a median wage of $51,000, while Hispanic women earned only $31,000.
• 44 percent of Connecticut women worked in professional or managerial jobs in 2012, compared with 40 percent nationally.