The Pennsylvania Commission for Women, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, and other stakeholders highlighted the importance of Equal Pay Day and the importance of eliminating the gender wage gap.
“The Pennsylvania Commission for Women is proud to host today’s Equal Pay Day event. Our commission has been addressing the gender wage gap and the impact it has on women in Pennsylvania for years. Women make up 51% of Pennsylvania’s population and are vital to Pennsylvania’s economy but are not compensated adequately. Due to the gender wage gap, each woman in Pennsylvania will lose an average of about $460,000 over the course of her lifetime,” said Commission Executive Director Moriah Hathaway. “Our goal is to help hardworking women across Pennsylvania and enable them to better support their families. We can do this through passing equal pay legislation and raising the minimum wage.”
Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year women must work in order to be paid what men were paid in the previous calendar year. On average, women who work fulltime are paid just 83 cents per every dollar men are paid and nearly two-thirds of people making the minimum wage are women.
“Women add tremendous strength to our workforce from entry level positions to CEO roles, and it is absurd that we continue to hinder their earning potential,” said First Lady Francis Wolf. “The Wolf Administration has taken steps to close the gender pay gap for state employees, and it’s time for Pennsylvania as a whole to catch up. We are hurting our women and our economy by abiding by these antiquated processes, and something needs to change.”
Gov. Wolf is calling for an immediate increase to $12 an hour on July 1, 2022, with annual increases until the wage reaches $15 an hour. Further increases would be tied to inflation to ensure that working Pennsylvanians never go without a cost of living increase for 13 years again.
A $15 minimum wage would impact an estimated 1.5 million workers, or 25 percent of all Pennsylvania workers, either directly or indirectly. Of the nearly 1 million workers who would directly benefit from an increase to $15, 62.2% are women. This means a raise for 618,400 women, or 20.9% of all women working in the commonwealth.
For many women of color, the gender wage gap is wider than it is for white women, compounded by the racial wage gap. Per the American Association of University Women, on average, Asian American and Pacific Islander women are paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to white men. Black women earn 58 cents for every dollar paid to white men. Latina women earn 49 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Pennsylvania would also directly benefit:
- 31.9% of Hispanic workers.
- 26.3% of Black workers.
- 15.7% of Asian workers.
According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the lack of pay equity costs women more than $915 billion every year. If the gender wage gap were closed, a working woman would gain, on average across her lifetime, enough additional pay to cover:
- More than 13 months of childcare.
- One year of tuition and fees for a four-year public university.
- Nearly one year’s worth of food.
- Seven months of mortgage and utility payments.
- More than 10 months of rent.