What Does the Wage Gap Actually Mean? Find Out in Terms of Groceries, Gas, Months of Rent

by Intern Kelsie

In honor of Equal Pay Day tomorrow, the National Partnership for Women & Families has released staggering new data that illustrates exactly what women are losing out on due to the wage gap. In New York alone, women on average are paid 83 cents to every dollar paid to men. When the data is separated and examined more closely, women of color fare worse, with African American women earning 76 cents and Latina women 63 cents to every dollar.

This sounds terrible, yes, but what does it mean? What could we buy if we were paid equally for equal work? Alarmingly, the report asserts if the wage gap were eliminated, each full-time working woman in New York could afford to pay for groceries for 1.3 years, buy 2,283 more gallons of gas, pay rent for eight more months, and purchase health insurance premiums for 2.4 more years.

That’s what $8,658 can buy you.

$8,658 we’re missing out on simply for being women in the city that never sleeps.

And what’s scary is that New York actually ranks fourth in the nation for its relatively low wage gap. Only Vermont, California, and Nevada outrank the Empire State in equal pay. 

The Equal Pay Act was passed 49 years ago, but in light of these statistics, it is an understatement to say that it has obviously not been very successful. The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives twice, but fell two votes short of passing in the Senate in 2010. It has been reintroduced in the current Congress, but the fact is that it still has not gained any ground. Perhaps this is because only 17% of Senate seats and 16.7% of Congress positions are held by women, and privilege is something that is always difficult to acknowledge, much less relinquish. 

Equal Pay Day was started in 1996 to illustrate the realities of the difference in men and women’s salaries. The date was chosen to symbolize how far into 2012 women must work to earn what men earned in 2011. 

Image source NationalPartnership.org

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