March 12 marks Equal Pay Day this year

March 12 marks Equal Pay Day this year - Business and Finance - News

Bridging the Gender Pay Gap: Equal Pay Day and the Strides Towards Parity

March 12 symbolizes Equal Pay Day in the United States, a significant milestone representing the number of days women need to work into the current year just to earn an equivalent salary to what men earned in the previous year. This means that a woman must labor for approximately 14.5 months to match a man’s earnings from 12 months.

The gender pay gap, as per the National Committee on Pay Equity and Equal Pay Today campaign, reveals that for every dollar a man earns, a woman is paid merely 84 cents. However, this gap widens further when part-time workers and those not employed year-round are considered, revealing a disconcerting figure of 78 cents on the dollar.

Deborah Vagins, the national campaign director of Equal Rights Advocates and the director of Equal Pay Today, explains that this wage disparity varies depending on several factors such as age, education level, occupation, tenure, race, and ethnicity. The largest difference in pay is generally observed when comparing the wages of White men to Black, Hispanic, or Native American women.

It is noteworthy that this discrepancy exists across various professions. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in their analysis of median weekly earnings last year by occupation, women earned less than men not only in all 20 largest occupations for men but also in all 20 of the largest occupations for women.

The most significant pay disparities were observed among financial managers (women earned 71% of every dollar a man earns), retail salespersons (72%), education and child care administrators (79%), administrative assistants (80%), and managers (81%). The narrowest gap was among cashiers, where women nearly have pay parity (98%) with their male colleagues.

Despite the gradual progress in narrowing the gender pay gap over time, the fact that it still exists in 2024 underscores the need for continuous efforts to recognize and value women’s contributions in the workforce. As Jamila Taylor, IWPR’s president and CEO, stated:

“The gender wage gap is a national disgrace. Even in professions typically dominated by women, men earn more for doing the same job. Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land for more than a half-century, yet women still cannot get fair treatment when it comes to employment and earnings. And it’s worse for women of color, who face rampant racial discrimination in the workforce in addition to ongoing pay inequities.”

To address this issue, there are ongoing initiatives such as an increasing number of state-level pay transparency laws and bans on employers requesting job candidates’ salary histories. Moreover, federal agencies are now prohibited from asking for job applicants’ salary history, with a proposed rule requiring federal contractors to disclose the pay for given positions in their job ads.

However, advocates for equal pay are pushing for legislative action at the federal level, supporting bills such as the Salary Transparency Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. These bills would prohibit retaliation against workers who discuss wages, close loopholes that allow employers to pay women less for the same work, and provide robust remedies for sex-based pay discrimination.

Absent federal laws mandating equal pay for all employers, Vagins notes that achieving true pay parity for women will be a slow process. As we continue to advocate for and progress towards equal pay, it is crucial to recognize the importance of ongoing efforts and legislative action in creating a more equitable workforce.