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Report: Utah tops in pay inequality for women

Published December 13, 2012 10:05 pm

Earnings • Census data shows they make 55 cents for each dollar man makes, magazine says.
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When it comes to income inequality, Utah women suffer the most.

The average working woman in the state makes 55 cents for every dollar the average working man makes, according to the online magazine Slate using data from the Census.

Utah is followed by Wyoming, at 56 cents, Louisiana at 59 cents, North Dakota at 62 cents and Michigan at 62 cents.

The best states for income equality are Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, Maryland and North Carolina. In each, women make about 75 percent of what men make.

This week, the online magazine presented the data from the Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey five-year estimatesin map form, which can be found at http://slate.me/WEHFqw.

The findings mirror information released earlier this year that showed wages for Utah women remain considerably lower than for men and are costing families throughout the state thousands of dollars each year. And with nearly 85,500 Utah households led by women, the pay gap also has an impact on the state economy, according to an April report by National Partnership for Women & Families, a Washington, D.C.-based, advocacy group.

If the gap between men's and women's wages were eliminated, each full-time working woman in Utah could afford to pay for groceries for an additional 2.1 years, buy 3,890 more gallons of gas, pay mortgages and utilities for 10 more months, pay rent for 18 more months or purchase family health insurance premiums for 4.1 more years, the report said.

These necessities would be particularly important for the 28.2 percent of Utah's women-led households now living below the poverty level.

Annette Pieper, vice president of programs for the National Association of Women Business Owners, Salt Lake chapter, said she knows from personal experience about being paid less than a man for doing the same work.

"In Utah, we've been a patriarchal society for so long that there's a strong cultural expectation that women are to be homemakers rather than being in the workforce," she said. "We've also not reached the point that there's a 50-50 partnership in sharing home responsibilities, so women are expected to do it all."

The gap in earnings for Utah women also isn't all that surprising when considering their lagging college graduation rates, according to economists such as Lecia Parks Langston, with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Utah has the worst disparity in the nation between men and women earning bachelor's degrees or higher — a difference of 6 percentage points. The Utah education gap more than doubles that of the next closest state, Idaho, at 2.4 percentage points, while the national average is 0.6 points.

"Education does pay," Langston said, noting the difference in earnings power between those who have a college degree and those who don't. "Women in Utah may think that they won't have to work, but they do— and at a higher percentage than women nationally. There needs to be more emphasis on women understanding that they need to go to college and graduate. But there must be a big cultural change for this to happen."

Even with degrees, there is still often a pay disparity for women. Nationally, women with professional degrees are paid 67 cents for every dollar paid to men with similar education levels, according to National Partnership for Women & Families. Women with doctoral degrees are paid less than men with master's degrees, and women with master's degrees are paid less than men with bachelor's degrees. —

Income disparity

O For data information go to http://slate.me/WEHFqw —

Best and worst for pay equality

Top five • Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, Maryland and North Carolina

Lowest five • Michigan, North Dakota, Louisiana, Wyoming, Utah

Source: Slate and Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey






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