A newly-released report contains evidence that closing the gender pay gap would both improve women’s Social Security benefits and strengthen the program’s finances.
The report, which was released by social justice organization Social Security Works, details the relationship between the lifetime earnings and Social Security benefits, with data showing that women age 65 or older received an average Social Security benefit of $12,520 in 2012, compared to $16,396 for their male counterparts.
This discrepancy is extended to disability and life insurance benefits as well as retirement benefits, all of which are the effects of paycheck inequality, according to the report.
“The data clearly show that women make less than men in nearly every occupation for which wage data are tracked,” the report said. “Even after taking into account college major, occupation, economic sector, experience, selectivity of one’s undergraduate institution, GPA and many other factors, women still earn 7 percent less than men one year out of college, and 12 percent less 10 years out.”
Cumulatively, the average career pay gap between men and woman is $220,000 over a 35-year career, with a $3,876 yearly difference in Social Security benefits.
For U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, paycheck inequality remains one of the nation’s more pertinent issues.
“It’s the foundation on which the middle class was built,” DeLauro said. “Today, women make just 77 cents for every dollar made by a man for equal work. Seven in 10 Americans believe that women deserve equal pay. We have the power to pass this legislation, we just need the political will.”
DeLauro, who has introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act every year since 1997, said that paycheck inequality affects women of color more than any other racial background.
“The gender pay gap is particularly bad for women of color,” DeLauro said. “While the average American woman gets 77 cents for every dollar made by a man, African American women only get 62 cents, and Hispanic women only 72 cents. Without Social Security benefits, the average poverty rate for women is one in 10. For African American and Hispanic women, it’s one in five.”
In Connecticut, even women who have Social Security are subject to poverty. Among the 178,276 family households in the state headed by women, about 25 percent of those families, or 44,391 households, have incomes that fall below the poverty line, according to a report by the National Partnership for Women and Families.
“It’s even worse for the two out of every five women living on their own,” DeLauro said last week when the report was released.
Though DeLauro and other many other of the nation’s voters have expressed their support for paycheck equality there are still many who oppose it.
According to the Republican National Committee, who posted a 2014 press release titled “The Misleading Paycheck Fairness Act,” the PFA is nothing but a “desperate political ploy.”
“This law will not create ‘equal’ pay, but it will make it nearly impossible for employers to tie compensation to work quality, productivity and experience, reduce flexibility in the workplace, and make it far easier to file frivolous lawsuits that line the pockets of trial lawyers. Ultimately, this bill will hurt all workers, especially women.”
The release went on to say that the 77 cents per dollar statistic is misleading, and that the “dishonest rhetoric” and “inaccurate math” used by the Democratic party is nothing but the party’s “latest political ploy.”
Though such opposition has prevented the legislation from moving forward, DeLauro is confident that the Paycheck Fairness Act will pass in the future, as it has already passed the House in 2007 and 2009, but “came just a few votes shy” in the Senate.