There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about a gender pay gap in the U.S. workforce – and a lot of excuses from conservative forces about how that data is interpreted as they attempt to poke holes in the statistics.
But a new substantive report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that the existing gulf in wages between women and men cannot be made up by education, and is actually more pervasive the higher one goes up the corporate ladder.
“There is much greater parity at the lower end of the wage distribution, likely because minimum wages and other labor market policies create a wage floor,” the document finds. “At the 10th percentile, women are paid 92 cents on the male dollar, whereas women at the 95th percentile are paid 74 cents relative to the dollar of their male counterparts’ hourly wages.”
The EPI report adds, “Women are paid less than similarly educated men at every level of education. And the wage gap tends to rise with education level.”
One upside EPI notes – and the Teamsters have stated it many times – women who are members of a union get paid more and more equally than those who are not. But on the whole, the median woman makes $3.27 less an hour than men.
This study also validates other documents that have looked into gender pay issues. For example, its findings are similar to an August report by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) that breaks down average pay by race, ethnicity and gender. The NWLC investigation found Latina women will make about $1 million less than their white male counterparts over a 40-year career. African-American women don’t fare much better, taking in about $877,000 less. By comparison, women on average make about $430,000 less.
None of this is fair, just or right. That’s why elected officials need to step in to help solve the problem now. It’s just one more thing to consider when workers go to the ballot box in November.