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April 4, 2017

Equal Pay Day: Maine's gender wage gap is 22 cents per $1

An analysis released today by the National Partnership for Women and Families shows that women employed full time and year round in Maine are paid on average just 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, a yearly wage gap of $10,093 on average.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit timed the release of its analysis to Equal Pay Day, which started in 1996. It is always held in April on a Tuesday to symbolize how far into the year women need to work to make what men did in the previous year, as well as how far into the next work week they must work to earn what men earned the previous week.

The National Partnership analysis showed that, if the gap were closed, Maine women could afford food for 1.5 more years, 7.5 more months of mortgage payments, nearly 13 months more of rent and more than 14 months of additional child care annually than they are able to pay for at their present wages. 

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the nonprofit reported that Maine has the 22nd largest cents-on-the-dollar gap in the nation, with Wyoming having the greatest gap at 36 cents and New York and Delaware tied with the smallest gap at 11 cents. A ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found here. 

“Equal Pay Day is a painful reminder that women in this country have had to work more than three months into this year just to catch up with what men were paid last year,” Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, said in the release. “This analysis shows just how damaging that lost income can be for women and their families, as well as the economy and the businesses that depend on women’s purchasing power. Entire communities, states and our country suffer because lawmakers have not done nearly enough to end wage discrimination or to advance the fair and family friendly workplace policies that would help erase the wage gap.”

Other findings in the wage gap analysis include:

  • Nationally, women who hold full-time, year-round jobs in the United States are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men.
  • Black women are paid 63 cents and Latinas just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
  • White, non-Hispanic women are paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
  • Asian women are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
  • Mothers with full-time, year-round jobs are paid 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.

Every state and 94% of the country’s congressional districts have a gender wage gap. 

The nonprofit reported that members of Congress are expected today to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would eliminate loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

In Maine, state Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, is sponsoring a bill, LD 1259, which takes aim at the income disparity between men and women by prohibiting workplace practices that perpetuate the wage gap. Breen's “An Act Regarding Pay Equality” would ban employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history, a practice that turns the wage gap into an albatross around women’s necks.

The bill also states that salaries in Maine should be based on market value, job performance and credentials, not prior salaries that may not reflect the true value of the worker.

It will be the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks.

“Not only does the gender wage gap rob women of a fair paycheck, it makes families less secure and slows economic growth,” Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said in a statement Tuesday. “A record number of women are now the primary breadwinners in their families, yet they are systematically shortchanged when it comes to their salary. These women, their families, businesses and the Maine economy suffer as a result. We must do better.”

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