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The Story Behind the Numbers: The Wage Gap

Tomorrow, the Census Bureau will release new data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the U.S. in 2013. As we get ready to crunch numbers, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at what these numbers tell us — and don’t tell us — about the wage gap.

The typical American woman who works full time, year round was still paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart in 2012. For women of color, the gaps are even larger. This blog post provides details about the wage gap measure that the Census Bureau and the National Women’s Law Center use, factors contributing to the wage gap, and how to shrink the gap.

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The Story Behind the Numbers: Health Insurance

Posted by Stephanie Glover, Health Policy Fellow | Posted on: September 15, 2014 at 09:07 am

Tomorrow, the Census Bureau will release new data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the United States in 2013. As we get ready to crunch numbers, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at what these numbers will tell us about health insurance.

Where does this data come from?

Once a year, the Census Bureau includes additional questions on health coverage and income within their monthly Current Population Survey. This supplement is known as the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The ASEC questions regarding health insurance explore whether each member of the respondent household had insurance coverage throughout the previous calendar year, and if so, what kind of coverage. According to the Census Bureau, the ASEC is the most widely used source of data on health insurance coverage in the U.S.

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The Story Behind the Numbers: Poverty

Posted by | Posted on: September 15, 2014 at 09:01 am

This week, the Census Bureau will release new data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the U.S. in 2013. As we get ready to crunch numbers, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at what these numbers tell us— and don’t tell us—about poverty. Here are a few FAQs on poverty and the Census Bureau data.

What does the poverty rate measure?

The poverty rate measures the percentage of the U.S. population with income below the federal poverty threshold, often referred to as the “poverty line,” for their family size (e.g., $23,624 in 2013 for a family of four with two kids). Income is calculated before taxes and includes only cash income such as earnings, pension/retirement income, Social Security, unemployment benefits, and child support payments.

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Missouri State Representative Thinks a Court Case is the Best Way to Keep his Daughters from Using Birth Control

Posted by Rachel Easter, Fellow | Posted on: September 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

Earlier this week we got some more insight into the twisted reasoning that some people use to justify attempts to limit women’s access to essential health care. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday in the case Wieland v. Sebelius. The plaintiff, Paul Wieland, would have us believe that this is just like the other cases that have been filed against the rule that insurance plans cover the full range of birth control methods. Except there’s a big difference: Wieland is not the owner of a corporation nor is he representing a religiously affiliated organization. This means that the birth control coverage requirement doesn’t even apply to him. He does not have to do anything differently than he did before the ACA expanded access to contraceptives for millions of women (and that is why the district court dismissed his case). But that’s not stopping Wieland.

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Paycheck Fairness, Part II — Raise the Minimum Wage!

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: September 11, 2014 at 09:55 am

Yesterday, a majority of the Senate voted to proceed to debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would strengthen current laws against wage discrimination and make it easier for women to ensure that their employers are paying them fairly. A vote on the merits of this bill is long overdue, and Senate passage would be a critically important step forward.

But the Paycheck Fairness Act is not the only bill that could help close the gap between women’s and men’s earnings — which hasn’t budged in a decade, as women working full time, year round are still typically paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. One reason for this persistent wage gap is that women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs: for starters, they make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers. Another bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, would boost pay for these workers by gradually raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increasing the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing these wages to keep up with inflation. 

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One Step Closer to Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act

Posted by Gail Zuagar, Outreach Associate | Posted on: September 10, 2014 at 04:47 pm

Today the Senate, by a vote of 73-25, agreed to move on to a full debate of the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA). But we’re not at the finish line just yet—in fact, we’re far from it. There will be another procedural vote before the Senate finally gets to the point and hopefully passes PFA.

Passing PFA would make a big difference for working women. Here’s how:

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What Happens After Hobby Lobby

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: September 10, 2014 at 01:47 pm

Are you angry yet over the Supreme Court’s Decision in Hobby Lobby?

As part of the Law Center's work, we track the legal challenges to the requirement that health insurance plans cover the full range of contraceptive methods. One of the latest developments is that some of the other for-profit companies that brought lawsuits are getting what they asked for – a permanent exception from having to include the birth control requirement in their health insurance plans. Just last week, a for-profit lumber business got its exemption.

I knew this development was likely because of the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, holding that some for-profit companies can use religion to discriminate against their employees. But just because I knew it was coming didn’t stop me from experiencing a whole new level of anger.

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What the Senate Can Do About the Economic Pressures Facing Women

Posted by Amanda Hooper, Outreach Manager | Posted on: September 09, 2014 at 12:25 pm

This week, the Senate has the chance to support economic fairness for women and families.

Women are facing tremendous economic hardships —two-thirds of all minimum wage workers in the United States are women and women who work full-time, year-round are still only paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. With the wage gap adding up to more than $11,000 every year in lost wages, too many women have trouble making ends meet paying for things like housing, groceries, and health care. And since nearly two-thirds of working mothers are primary or co-breadwinners in their families, the obstacles that women face harm families as well.

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