Wage Gap Increases Between Women and Men, US Census Reports
Figures released by the US Census Bureau last week show that the pay gap between women and men widened in 2003. Women’s pay slumped for the first time since 1999, with women earning only 75.5 cents to every dollar men earn. The Census Bureau stated that this marks the first “statistically significant” decline in women’s pay since 1995, AccountingWEB.com reports, with real median earnings of women over the age of 15 fell 0.6 percent to $30,724. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has stated that the 1.4 percent decrease in the gender wage ratio is the largest backslide since 1991.
Though over forty years have passed since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, at which point women earned 59 cents to the dollar men earned, progress to attain its goals has been slow. With more families becoming dependent on women as breadwinners, and with approximately half of women entering retirement alone, the wage gap is a crucial issue that affects the health and well-being of women and their families. The poverty rate for women and girls increased to 13.7 percent from 13.3 percent in 2002, increasing for the third straight year, reports Women’s eNews. In addition, the uninsured rate rose more sharply for women at four percent, with the rate for men only rising one percent.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that the typical prime-age working woman earned $273,592 over the 15 year period between 1983 and 1998, compared with $722,693 for the typical prime-age working man. In addition to the wage gap, this discrepancy occurs because women work more part-time jobs and take more time out of the workforce to raise children. However, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports that in October 2003 the General Accounting Office released a report titled “Women’s Earnings” that examined 18 years of data. The report found a 20 percent earnings gap between men and women that could not be explained, even after accounting for factors such as occupation, industry, marital status, and job tenure.