On Equal Pay Day, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand continues her fight to ensure more working women have a fair shot at earning financial security by closing the pay gap and raising the minimum wage. Equal Pay Day marks the additional time women must work into 2014 – for a total of more than 15 months – to match what their male counterparts made in 2013 in just 12 months. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on both pieces of legislation within the next month.

 

With more dual income households than ever before, and 40 percent of women with children at home serving as sole breadwinners, when women get held back financially by systemic impediments in the workplace, the entire middle class and American economy gets held back too. Senator Gillibrand’s American Opportunity Agenda would create paid family and medical leave, increase the minimum wage, make quality affordable child care accessible, provide universal pre-k, and ensure equal pay for equal work.

“The fact is, women are increasingly the new family breadwinner. Women are the primary income earner for a growing share of homes across America,” said Senator Gillibrand. “But almost two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women – and even after working full time they are bringing home a paycheck that keeps their family below the poverty level. And today, in the year 2014, women on average earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns – and even less for women of color. African American women earn 69 cents on the dollar, and Latinas earn just 58 cents on that dollar. It’s time to give America’s women a fair shot.”

 

In New York City, an estimated 530,000 households depend on mothers’ earnings, yet working women earn on average $142 less than men each week. An estimated 320,000 women could benefit from the minimum wage increase.

 

In the Hudson Valley, an estimated 180,000 households depend on mothers’ earnings, yet working women earn on average $132 less than men each week. An estimated 84,200 women could benefit from the minimum wage increase.

 

On Long Island, an estimated 225,000 households depend on mothers’ earnings, yet working women earn on average $147 less than men each week. An estimated 109,800 women could benefit from the minimum wage increase.

 

Equal Pay for Equal Work:

Even though the Equal Pay Act has been the law of the land for over 40 years, women earn on average 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and even less for women of color. African American women earn 69 cents on the dollar, and Latinas earn just 58 cents to the dollar. The median earnings for women were $37,791 compared to $49,398 for men. Studies show that paying women a dollar for every dollar a man makes could grow America’s GDP by as much as 4 percent.
Senator Gillibrand is pushing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which builds on the promise of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and helps close the pay gap by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay, closing loopholes courts have created in the law, creating strong incentives for employers to obey the laws, and strengthening federal outreach and enforcement efforts. It closes loopholes employers can use to shortchange workers, hold employers accountable for pay inequity, make it easier for workers to pursue back pay, and provide working women with access to training and other resources to help empower them to negotiate for a paycheck that meets their value.

The minimum wage disproportionally affects women – who are 62 percent of minimum wage earners. The Minimum Wage Fairness Act would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 in three 95-cent increments over a three-year period. To keep up with the rising cost of living, the wage would be indexed to inflation.

The purchasing power of the minimum wage is currently at a historic low, with the last increase in the federal minimum wage taking place in July 2009. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be estimated at more than $10.50 an hour today. The legislation would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years, raising it to a level that is 70 percent of the federal minimum wage.

Nationwide, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could increase America’s GDP by approximately $22 billion over the course of three years as workers spend their higher earnings at local businesses. That injection of new economic activity would generate up to 85,000 new jobs in the same time span, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

 

A recent study by the National Women Law Center found that states with a higher minimum wage had a lower wage gap between men and women.

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