There is much talk about the challenges facing America's families today. Often the talk is so big picture it's hard to boil it down to what it means for real people, in their homes and communities, at their dinner tables, and in their checkbooks. But when it comes to fair pay and economic security for women and their families, doing so just got a lot easier.
In nearly every corner of the country - in 423 out of 435 congressional districts - women are paid less than men. That means that women and families living in 97 percent of the country's congressional districts are losing critical income they could use to pay for food, gas, rent, health insurance and more every year, because we haven't deal with a pervasive and punishing gender-wage gap. But now, every woman and every lawmaker can see how the difference in wages paid to women and men plays out in their community.
Nationally, full-time working women are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to full-time working men - a gap that has remained largely unchanged for a decade. That amounts to $11,084 dollars annually. African American women and Latinas fare even worse, being paid just 64 and 55 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic, white men, respectively.
Ask any of the two-thirds of women in this country who are breadwinners for their families, and they will tell you what thousands of dollars in additional income each year would mean to them, in addition to the women and families in their communities.
According to our analysis, the congressional districts with the largest gender-based, cents on-the-dollar wage differences are in Louisiana, Virginia, New Jersey and West Virginia. The two districts with the largest gaps are in southern Louisiana; women there are paid just 61 cents for every dollar paid to men. To find out what the wage gap is in your state or district, check out our map of the wage gap in all states and 435 districts.
These new data should be a clear and resounding wake-up call for all lawmakers who have the power to pass legislation that would help close the gap and promote economic security for the women and families in their districts. The Paycheck Fairness Act would do just that, but opponents continue to block it in Congress despite strong public, bipartisan public support.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963; prohibit retaliation against workers for discussing their salaries; recognize employers with good pay practices; and provide assistance to businesses, especially small ones, that need help adopting them. It would create a negotiation skills training program for women and girls and enhance federal agencies' investigative and enforcement abilities.
Lawmakers cannot be serious about supporting families and strengthening our economy if they allow a wage gap that persists across industries, education levels and geography to go unaddressed. It's time for all members of Congress to take a hard look at an issue that is hurting women and families in 97 percent of districts across the country. It's time for them all to commit to promoting fair wages by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
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