Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, but it also was a reminder that little progress has been made.
During that 50 years, wages have only changed 18 cents, Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said.
It’s a stark reminder of how far women have to go, Younger said during a press conference.
Today, in the state of Connecticut women are making 78 cents to every $1 that a man makes. The difference between the 78 cents and the $1 amounts to over $12,000 a year, Younger said.
Closing that pay gap would mean a four month supply of groceries, four months of rent and utilities, four months of childcare payments, two months of healthcare premiums or six months of student loan payments, or even four tanks of gas. Add that all up and it’s equal to about $12,000, Younger said.
Over a lifetime, women may be losing between $250,000 to $1 million, because of the gender pay gap.
Lawmakers, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, and state officials marked the day—when women’s earnings catch up to what men earn—with a press conference to tout their efforts to end pay inequality.
Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer and Economic Development Commissioner Catherine Smith will co-chair a task force created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in January to look at the issue of pay equity.
“I think it’s particularly important in these times to double-down our efforts to work on pay equity,” Palmer said. “We all know families have lost ground in this recession and many families are headed up by women, which means not only their mothers have lost ground, but children have lost ground.”
Smith said the task force has been charged with looking at the root causes for the disparity in pay, which impacts women mostly in the private sector. It will also identify best practices and guidelines for businesses to follow. She said the end result may not require legislation, but she hopes the task force will also help raise awareness of the issue.
The report is due in October and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women is expected to help put together the report.
But how will that happen if the women’s commission is eliminated as it currently exists in Malloy’s budget proposal?
Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said this is exactly why the state needs a Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
“This is a thorny issue that affects women specifically and I know, I as a legislator and many of my colleagues, are supporting the Permanent Commission in the Status of Women,” Bye said.