Economic insecurity and wage discrimination continue to be vital issues to women. The Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963 and requires that women and men receive equal pay for equal work. President Kennedy signed the bill into law calling it a "significant step forward" to ending the "unconscionable practice" of paying women less than men for the same job. At that time, full-time working women earned 59 cents for every dollar that a full-time working man earned. Today that number is 80 cents... an increase of 21 cents in 56 years! In Dutchess County this number is 78.4%
This disparity in wages starts at the beginning of a woman's career and increases over time. In fact, 1 year after college graduation, women earn 7% less than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, this disparity exists in all ethnic and racial groups, in every state, and just about all occupations.
Pay inequity is an issue affecting families, not just women. 42% of all women with children under the age of 18 are the sole or primary breadwinner in their family. Because of the wage gap, women's total earnings loss over their career is $1.2 million for a college graduate and $700,000 for a high school graduate and impacts not only pensions but also Social Security benefits.
Progress in closing the wage gap must continue. The Equal Pay Act, which would strengthen the provisions of the Equal Pay Act, has been around for 15 years yet has not been passed by Congress. Both the Pay Equity for All Act and the Fair Pay Act would strengthen equal pay protections like the Lilly Ledbetter Act extended the statue of limitations to contest wage discrimination.