Paycheck Fairness Does Not Have to be an Oxymoron

With the ever widening gender wage gap between men and women in the U.S., it is now more critical than ever to grant hard-working American women the same opportunity as men in this country to maintain basic economic security today, and over the course of their lifetimes.

While women make up over half of the workforce in the U.S. and more than 2/3 of them are their families’ principal breadwinners, women still earn on average only 77% of what their male counterparts do. Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) recently released the report, Living Below the Line, which measured reported household incomes versus the cost of basic expenses, and found that 62% of all women live without economic security, compared to 46% of men in the U.S. Furthermore, 76% of black women and 80% of Hispanic women fail to make basic ends meet. Single mothers, an increasingly large demographic, however, are at the greatest disadvantage; with 82% of single mother households living in economic insecurity and having trouble providing the basic necessities of food, housing and health care for their families. Given these desperate levels of economic insecurity, at the very least, women need fair and adequate wages that will allow them and their families to build and follow a roadmap ensuring economic security well into the future.

Presently in Washington, the Senate is planning to make another attempt to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a much-needed updating and reinforcement of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their own wages to coworkers. Without this bill, employers can penalize and even fire employees for talking about their salaries. This adverse practice leaves workers in the dark, preventing them from ever finding out about pay discrimination in the workplace.

As our country is still recovering from turbulent economic times, more and more families are counting on women’s earnings, especially given that the majority of breadwinners in the U.S. are women. Unequal and inadequate pay practices complicate matters a hundredfold, especially for those families that rely solely on female earnings.

With such daunting statistics of women in the U.S. struggling to ensure their family’s basic economic security due in part to inadequate pay, now is the time for Congress to take the necessary steps to effectively address wage discrimination, balance pay inequity for all hard-working Americans and eliminate loopholes that have undermined the Equal Pay Act’s effectiveness and overall worth in this country.

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