Pay gap persists between women and men

Report: In Ohio, women paid 78 cents for every $1 to men

Ohio women employed full-time, year-round are paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men — an annual gap of nearly $10,600, a national report shows.

The wage gap disproportionately hurts working mothers and their families, according to the report by the National Partnership for Women & Families. National data show the wage gap for mothers is worse than the gap for women overall, even though women are the primary breadwinners in nearly 40 percent of households.

American single mothers with full-time, year-round jobs make just 58 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, according to the report.

“It’s very disheartening,” Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman said. “It’s 2016. And those numbers are horrible. Especially in Ohio. I don’t know a woman in Ohio who works full-time who doesn’t deserve full pay.”

National advocates for women declared Tuesday, April 12, a day to spotlight what it says is the persistent wage gap between men and women, designating it as “Equal Pay Day.”

Ohio’s gender wage gap spans the state. In all 16 of Ohio’s congressional districts, the median yearly pay for women who work full time, year round is less than the median yearly pay for men.

In Butler and Clark counties, the average median pay for men is $47,081 compared to $36,588 for women. In Montgomery and Greene counties, the difference is $48,774 for men and $37,321 for women.

“This analysis is a sobering reminder of the serious harm the wage gap causes women and families all across the country,” Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership, said in a statement. “At a time when women’s wages are so critical to the economic well-being of families, the country is counting on lawmakers to work together to advance the fair and family friendly workplace policies that would promote equal pay.”

If the gap between women’s and men’s wages in Ohio were eliminated, each woman who holds a full-time, year-round job in the state could afford to buy food for 1.5 more years, pay for mortgage and utilities for nine more months, or pay rent for more than 14 additional months, the partnership said.

Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge recalled working as a teller years ago for a downtown Dayton savings and loan institution; she declined to say which one. She recalls female employees expressing concern then — in the early- to mid-1960s — about working conditions and differences in pay between men and women.

“I learned early on how sad and tragic that is, and it hasn’t changed,” Dodge said. “It hasn’t changed at all.”

The issue has been in the national spotlight recently. Last month, members of the U.S. women’s soccer team sued over wage discrimination, arguing that they are paid less than male counterparts despite generating more revenue.

Other women’s organizations have lamented the issue, pointing to how persistent the problem is. For example, the American Association of University Women said this spring that the gap — about 77 or 78 cents for women compared to a dollar for men — between the sexes has barely moved in a decade.

Amy Hanauer, founding executive director of the liberal-leaning Policy Matters Ohio, says a new mix of policies would help matters.

“Raise the minimum wage and eliminate the sub-minimum wage for workers who are supposed to earn tips, as women are more likely to work in these low wage jobs,” Hanauer said in an email. “The second: fund child care for more families and provide better pay to child-care providers and other caring-economy employees who are paid in part with public funds — women are more likely to hold these jobs.”

But Joe Nichols, economics policy analyst with the conservative-leaning Buckeye Institute, said his office tends to be skeptical of gender-based wage comparisons. He contends that too often, organizations look at median or average incomes provided in federal or Bureau of Labor Statistics data, compare those numbers between men and women, and find that men’s earnings tend to be higher.

“But that completely misses many important factors,” Nichols said.

Key factors left unconsidered include occupation and job type, time spent out of the work force, hours worked, tenure and more, he said.

He said the gap will close as more women enter technical fields, including engineering, and advance their education in general.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, in 1963, a typical woman working full-time, year round made 59 cents for every dollar paid to a male colleague.

“If you look historically, that gender pay gap has closed dramatically over the past 30, 40, 50 years,” Nichols said. “I think that’s obviously a sign that more women are getting colleges degrees in the first place or getting college degrees in professional and technical fields.”

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