How is Utah’s fight to close gender wage gap coming along?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) –  Today, several members of Congress are expected to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act.  It would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women.  

The reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Acts falls on Equal Pay Day.  The reason for the day falling on April 4th is no coincidence, it’s meant to mark just how far into the new year women much work in order to catch up with what men were paid in the year before.  

The issue has been something several lawmakers across the country and here in Utah have tried to bring solutions to.  

Senate Bill 221 was introduced during the most recent legislative session, that bill looked to study the difference in pay between state workers, even though employee pay information is already public record.  

Just by seeing someone’s salary or wages is not enough. I think what we are trying to get to is this comprehensive analysis and to make sure we have enough information for that,” said Sen. Luz Escamilla (D) – Salt Lake City.

Those in opposition of the bill, like Republican Senator Todd Weiler, say he doesn’t want pay discrimination but he worries the data might be skewed.  He points to an example of fellow senators who all make the same base pay but might make more for committee assignments. 

You say we shouldn’t be afraid of the data. I’m not necessarily afraid of the date, but sometimes the data doesn’t tell the whole story,” Senator Todd Weiler (R) – Woods Cross, said. 

Today, on Equal Pay Day, the National Partnership for Women and Families using data from the U.S. Census Bureau released an analysis on the gender wage gap here in Utah and across the country.  

Their analysis shows not only the size of the gender wage gap but its detrimental effects on the spending power of Utah women.  

According to their analysis, Utah women employed full time, year-round, are paid just 71 cents for every dollar paid to men.  Amounting to a yearly gap of almost $15,000.

That means that Utah women lose a combined total of more than $7.3-billion every year.  That is money that could strengthen the state economy and is especially significant for the more than 88,000 Utah households headed by women — 26% of which are in poverty.  

According to the analysis, if the gap were eliminated in Utah, a woman working a full-time year-round job would have enough money for nearly two more years of food, 2.2 additional years of tuition and fees at a four-year public university, more than 10 months of mortgage and utility payments, about 16 more months of rent, or the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college.  

Nationally, women earn about 80 cents to the dollar that is paid to men.  That disparity is even greater for minorities.  Black women receive 63 cents to the dollar and Latinas only get 54 cents for every dollar paid to a white non-Hispanic man.  Asian women are paid 85 cents for every dollar.  

The analysis also points out that Utah is still one of four states with the largest cents-on-the-dollar differences in the country.  Next to Wyoming, Louisiana and West Virginia.   

The finding for all states are available here.  

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