A bill making it harder for employers to pay women less than men in comparable jobs died in the U.S. Senate Wednesday when Senate Republicans derailed the Paycheck Fairness Act, a Democratic bill curbing paycheck discrimination against women.
A new study finds that nationally, women in full-time jobs earn 77 cents on average for every dollar men make.
In Georgia, that disparity is a little less. The National Partnership for Women and Families found that women with a full-time job in Georgia make on average 81 cents for every dollar a man makes. According to that study, women in the state lose a combined total of more than $11.2 billion every year.
Barry Hirsch, an economist at Georgia State University, says the pay disparity remains because women often take time off to care for children, cutting back on work experience.
“Women have caught up and surpassed men in schooling, and caught up in so many ways. But the last hurdles for ultimate convergence has to be changes in the workplace where there is more flexibility in hours.”
Hirsch says there is almost no pay disparity when young men and women start their careers. But as a woman’s career advances, the pay gap starts to increase.
However, the disparity isn’t as wide for women who don’t have children.
“Single women, or just women without children, there’s a narrower gap. So much of this really goes to kind of the division of labor within a household and care for families,” said Hirsch.
He says women also are less likely to negotiate for a higher salary.
While women in Georgia fare better than the national average, Sarah Fleisch Fink with the National Partnership for Women and Families says minority women in the state are making the least.
“Latinas are paid 49 cents on the dollar as compared to white, non-Hispanic men,” said Fink. “And African-American women are paid 62 cents on the dollar.”
Fleisch-Fink attributes that pay disparity in part to racial discrimination. She says these lost wages mean families have less money to spend on goods and services that help drive economic growth.
President Obama blasted the Republicans in Congress for blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the president said stalling the act was wrong and “harmful” for national efforts to rebuild an economy.