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Welcome to the Wage Gap Cafe

Posted by Becka Wall, Program Assistant | Posted on: April 08, 2014 at 10:04 am

On average, women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make. That amounts to $11,000 per year in lost wages  – no small chunk of change.  For many women, this means sometimes having to choose between buying enough groceries and going to the doctor or between paying this month's rent and that college loan. Some have a harder time getting the picture, so I’m going break it down for those of you who can’t quite visualize the difference 23 cents makes.

What if you went into a restaurant and someone took a few bites out of whatever deliciousness you ordered – and they ate about 23% of it. You would get pretty mad, right?

Imagine if someone just took a chunk out of your…

Pizza: Oh, I’m sorry – I didn’t see your female parts there. This is the “woman sized” slice of pizza. After all – you don’t need a whole slice, do you? That would just be greedy.

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President Obama Announces an End to Pay Secrecy Gag Rules for Employees of Federal Contractors

Posted by Beccah Golubock Watson, Fellow | Posted on: April 07, 2014 at 12:22 pm

On Tuesday, President Obama will sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors, who employ close to one-quarter of the U.S. workforce, from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with each other. The President will also direct the Labor Department to adopt regulations that require federal contractors to provide compensation data based on sex and race to the Department of Labor. These important steps will strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women and ensure that some workers can talk about pay without fear of retaliation. 

Punitive pay secrecy policies require employees to keep the amount they are paid secret and ban them from sharing this information with their coworkers. These policies are surprisingly common. A 2011 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that over 61 percent of the private-sector workers surveyed reported that discussing their wages is either prohibited or discouraged. These policies allow discriminatory practices to flourish. Fear of retaliation only exacerbates the many hurdles employees face in gathering information that would suggest they have experienced wage discrimination.

President Obama’s Executive Order is a decisive step against punitive pay secrecy policies, but the case against these policies has been growing for some time. Studies show it does not make business sense to penalize workers for talking about pay.

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Equal Pay Week 2014 — The Blog Posts

Posted by Katie Hegarty, Online Outreach Assistant | Posted on: April 07, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Tuesday, April 8th is Equal Pay Day. It represents the day that the average woman's wages finally catch up to the average man's earnings from the year before. You read that right: we had to work three extra months into 2014 before women’s wages were as much as men’s were at the close of 2013.

The sad fact is that the wage gap needs all the attention it can get. That’s why we are taking the time to raise awareness. Below, we’ve compiled links to blog posts from NWLC staff as well as partners and participants, addressing why it’s so important to discuss — and push for — equal pay. We’ll continue to update this page as more posts come in, so keep checking in! And to learn more about Equal Pay Week and the wage gap, click over to our resource page.

If you have a blog post you’d like to submit for Equal Pay Week, email it to

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The Sweet Reality of a 23 Cent per Hour Raise

Posted by Alana Eichner, Program Assistant | Posted on: April 07, 2014 at 11:52 am

Women only make 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. Big deal?

The biggest.

Twenty-three cents may not sound like much, but for me, that change would add up – and it would have a meaningful impact.  Here’s how:

  • With a 23-cent raise for every dollar I earn, I could pay off my student loans in less than two years, compared with the 7 years that it will take me now. But I’m not all business. Maybe I wouldn’t spend the entire raise on student loans – maybe I’d eat out somewhere nice, treat myself to a new book, or buy a train ticket for a weekend away. Even if I spent just half of this increased income repaying my loan debt, it would shave off four years of monthly payments. And if I wanted to be the responsible adult my parents keep telling me to be, I could forgo (some of) that fun and use the other half to put away monthly retirement savings, something I cannot currently afford to do.
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Making Insurance Work for Seven Million and Counting

Posted by Stephanie Glover, Health Policy Fellow | Posted on: April 07, 2014 at 11:27 am

In case you haven’t heard – over seven million Americans have enrolled in private health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The numbers are still coming in, so this number will continue to grow as state-based Marketplaces as well as Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is added up. The numbers alone tell a great success story, but some news reports are quibbling about whether these numbers reflect previously uninsured Americans or people choosing to switch plans.

The goal of the health care law is to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality health insurance that fits their budget. Before the law, many people didn’t have any health insurance and others – women, in particular – paid high premiums for skimpy coverage.

Women who already had health insurance have a lot to gain by purchasing their coverage through the new Marketplaces. The individual market has long discriminated against women by charging them higher premiums just because they’re women and excluding coverage of important services like maternity care. Now, women no longer have to worry that they will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or dropped from coverage when they get sick. They will know that their coverage won’t run out when they need it most and they won’t have to worry that burdensome out-of-pocket expenses will prevent them from receiving the care they need.

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The Fair Minimum Wage Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act - Perfect Together

Posted by Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Senior Policy Analyst | Posted on: April 07, 2014 at 09:31 am

You know what I love?  When two things go together perfectly.  Cake and ice cream.  Wine and cheese.  Chocolate and…well, OK, chocolate pretty much goes perfectly with everything.

Two bills that are expected to see some action in Congress this month, The Fair Minimum Wage Act and Paycheck Fairness go together perfectly, too.  That’s because they’re both critical issues for women – and both will help women achieve fair pay.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index these wages to keep pace with inflation. Raising the minimum wage would help women achieve fair pay:

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The State of States and Equal Pay in 2014

Posted by Lauren Frohlich, Fellow | Posted on: April 07, 2014 at 09:23 am

This Tuesday, April 8th is Equal Pay Day—the day women would have to work until (in addition to working all of 2013!) to make the same amount of money that men made in 2013. We all know that nationally, women working full time, year round typically make 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the figure hasn’t budged in a decade. You should also know that the wage gap is even worse for women of color—African-American women working full time, year round make only 64 cents, and Hispanic women make only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

The national wage gap figures grab headlines but what’s less talked about is the variability in the wage gap by state. For example, in D.C. women working full time, year round make 90 cents for every dollar paid to men (which puts DC at #1 in terms of women’s pay equity), but in Wyoming women make only 64 percent of what men make (#51).

States that have smaller wage gaps for women overall don’t necessarily have smaller wage gaps for all groups of women, and there are some stark differences for women of color. Again looking at our nation’s capital, African-American women in D.C. make only 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, which makes DC the 4th worst state in the country for African-American women’s pay equity. Similarly, in California women overall make 84 percent of what men make (putting California at #6 in women’s pay equity), but Hispanic women in California make only 44 percent of white, non-Hispanic men—making California the 2nd worst state in the country for Hispanic women’s pay equity. 

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Women's Employment Update: Despite job gains, women's unemployment rate increased and long-term unemployment remains high

Posted by Lauren Frohlich, Fellow | Posted on: April 04, 2014 at 02:44 pm

March’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was showed stronger job growth than the previous two months. The economy added 192,000 jobs in March and over half of those jobs (99,000) were gained by women. But as we’ve seen during the recovery overall, the jobs added were disproportionately in low-wage sectors. Not only that, but women’s unemployment rate ticked up last month to 6.2 percent from 5.9 percent in February and the share of unemployed adult women who have been searching for a job for six months or more remained historically high at nearly four in ten. Here are some more key indicators about the state of women and the economy in March:

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