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April 17 is Equal Pay Day
Even in 2012, women still do not earn as much as men -- even in Hawaii

April 17 is Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into 2012 women must work to earn what men earned in 2011. Women are still not counted as fully equal to their male counterparts even in the 21st century – and we at the YWCA of O'ahu find this fact appalling.

The Equal Pay Act was created over forty years ago and stronger legislation is needed to address wage discrimination. Today, women are still earning less than their male counterparts, wage discrimination laws are poorly enforced and wage discrimination cases are extremely difficult to prove and win.(B)

At the time of the Equal Pay Act’s passage in 1963, women working full-time, year-round were paid merely 59 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.(A) Although the gap between men’s and women’s wages has narrowed over the past five decades, the typical woman continues to be paid substantially less than the typical man.(A)

Census statistics released in September, 2010 show that nationally, women now earn 77 percent of what men earn, based on the median earnings of full-time, year-round workers in 2009.(3) That’s $23 less to spend on groceries, housing, child care and all other expenses for every $100 worth of work done!(B)

Hawaii is only slightly better than the national average when it comes to the wage gap– In 2010, the typical woman in Hawaii working full-time, year round was paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to a man working full-time, year-round – that’s 3 cents narrower than the nationwide gap of 77 cents.(4, A)

The wage gap spans across occupations. For example, Hawaii women working full-time, year-round in 2010 in management, business, and financial occupations were paid only 82 cents for every dollar paid to men in the same occupations, and Hawaii women working full-time, year-round in sales and related occupations were paid only 65 cents for every dollar paid to men in the same occupations.(5, A)

The wage gap persists at all levels of education. In 2010, women in Hawaii with a high school diploma were paid only 79 cents for every dollar paid to men with a high school diploma. When comparing women and men in Hawaii with a bachelor’s degree the figure was 75 cents. In fact, the typical Hawaii woman who has received a bachelor’s degree still isn’t paid as much as the typical Hawaii man who has completed some college or attained an associate’s degree.(6, A)

Although nationally, young women between the ages of 25-34 start out on a level playing field with their male counterparts, they can expect to earn less over the course of their lifetimes. Over 47 years of full-time work, it is estimated that this gap amounts to a loss in wages for a woman of $700,000 for a high school graduate, $1.2 million for a college graduate and $2 million for a professional school graduate.(2, B)

Women in Hawaii already have higher rates of economic insecurity than do men in Hawaii, and are more likely to live in poverty (11.4 percent of Hawaii women compared to 8.2 percent of men).(7, A)

Unfortunately, the economic crisis hurts women even more, as women have lower earnings and higher poverty rates. In December 2011, the most recent month for which data are available, Hawaii provided food stamp benefits to more than 173,100 children and adults, an increase of nearly 16,800 from the previous year.(8, A) For many low-wage workers, these programs provide crucial support to meet basic needs when wages aren’t enough. For example, for a full-time, year-round worker at Hawaii’s minimum wage, the annual pay is less than the poverty line for a family of three.(A)

In 2011, women nationally made up about two-thirds of all workers that were paid minimum wage or less, totaling about 2.4 milllion women 16 and older.(9, A) In Hawaii, the minimum wage was $7.25 per hour, equivalent to only $14,500 a year for those working full-time year-round.(10, A) Moreover, the minimum wage for tipped employees in Hawaii was just $7.00 an hour, equivalent to an annual base pay of only about $14,000 for those working full time, year round. Nationally, women make up almost two-thirds (64.0 per cent) of workers in tipped occupations.(11,A)

How can we close the wage gap?

  • give low-wage working women a raise
  • Increase minimum wage

The YWCA supports initiatives to increase the income of women, including policies that raise the minimum wage, protect overtime, strengthen equal pay, maintain the earned income tax credit, oppose the privatization of Social Security, and expand non-traditional training for women from all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds.(B)

Women work as hard as men and deserve the same treatment as their male counterparts. We call for our legislators and business leaders to take a strong stance to help women gain equal footing as men. Closing this economic gap is a critical step for Hawaii women to achieve economic self sufficiency. Quite simply, it's about time women are paid for their work.

A)  National Women’s Law Center Hawaii State Equal Pay Fact Sheet. April 2012
B)  YWCA National position on Equal Pay: 2009
1) National Committee on Pay Equity http://www.pay-equity.org/index.html 
2) National Committee on Pay Equity. http://www.pay-equity.org/info.html
3) Business and Professional Women’s Foundation: Equal Pay Day. April 12, 2012. http://www.bpwfoundation.org/index.php/contact/info/equal_pay_day
4) Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage, Table A-5: Number and Real Median Earnings of total Workers and Full-Time, Year-Round Workers by Sex and Female to Male Earnings Ratio: 1960 to 2010 (2011) http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/income.html 
5) NWLC calculations from 2010 ACS, Table B24022: Sex by Occupation and Median Earnings for the Full-Time, Year-Round Civilian Population 16 Years and Over, http://www.census.gov/acs/www 
6) NWLC calculations from 2010 ACS, Table B20004: Median Earnings by Sex and Educational Attainment for the Population 25 Years and Over, http://www.census.gov/acs/www 
7) NWLC calculations from 2010 ACS, Table C17001: Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months by Sex and Age, http://www.census.gov/acs/www/ 
8) U.S. Department of Agriculture, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Current Participation (Persons). March 1, 2012. http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/29SNAPcurrPP.htm
9) U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2011, Table 1. 2011. http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2011tbls.htm 
10) NWLC calculations from U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. “Minimum Wage Laws in the States – January 1, 2012”. http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm. “Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees” http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm “National Employment Law Project, Map of Minimum Wage Laws” http://wwww.raisetheminimumwage.com/pages/map
11) NWLC calculations from U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Table 11. 2011. http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.pdf





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