New Haven Register

4/20/2010

As advocates nationally observe Equal Pay Day today, women who are employed full time in Connecticut are paid a median annual salary of $44,625 per year, compared to $58,838 for men, according to data released Monday.

To put it another way, the difference would allow women and their families to afford food for two more years or mortgage and utility payments for seven more months, family health insurance premiums for four more years, rent for 15 months or 5,000 gallons of gas.

The National Partnership for Women & Families and the American Association of University Women released a state-by-state breakdown on the wage gap between working women and men ages 16 and older. It includes all educational levels.

“Putting the wage gap into tangible terms is what this discussion is all about. How many more gas bills will go unpaid or food pantries will need to be visited for us to understand that the pay gap has a real impact on the women and families in Connecticut?” Teresa Younger, executive director of the state’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said Monday.

“The wage gap is not some made up number, it has a very real impact on women and their families and their lifelong economic security. Passage of laws that support pay equity makes for good public policy and affects the lives of today’s generation and those into the future,” Younger said.

Nationally, the earnings median for women is $35,745, compared to $46,367 for men. The gap is smallest in the District of Columbia, where women earn a median annual salary of $50,519, compared to $57,393 for men.

Only in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico do women surpass men in median earnings at $20,165 per year, while men are paid $19,942.

The AAUW has taken an official position in support of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, which would amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by expanding remedies for victims of wage discrimination. The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Paycheck Fairness Act last year but the legislation remains stalled in the U.S. Senate.

“Today in the United States, women are paid just 77 cents to a man’s dollar, and the wage gap is even worse for women of color. It takes a tremendous toll on women in every state,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

The Society for Human Resource Management opposes the legislation, saying it would create new mandates for employers, make it easier for plaintiffs to seek punitive damages and expose employers to unlimited damages.

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