On April 2, women took time from their busy work days to acknowledge Equal Pay Day. According to laws already on the books, Equal Pay Day for all women should be Dec. 31. But it's not. The average woman must work far into the next year to earn what the average man earned the previous year.
The gender gap in base pay varies by industry. In health care, it is 2.4 percent, while in manufacturing, it is 6.4 percent, according to Glassdoor and Bizwomen. Locally, the health care and manufacturing sectors are major employers, according to Warren County Economic Development. More than 3,400 people work in health care, while the manufacturing sector employs at least 2,400.
It takes until April 2 for women who work full-time to catch up with their male counterparts. The wage gap starts at the beginning of a woman’s career and multiples over time, and it can begin even earlier. A 2018 analysis showed boys earn on average twice what girls earn for chores.
Collectively, women in New York lose $17 billion a year due to the pay gap. This hurts women and their families. It also hurts the communities: local businesses are hurt through lost sales, as are local schools and governments that depend upon sales tax and property tax dollars to fund the programs and the infrastructure those communities need to exist.
Change needs to happen, but there is good news. Our Legislature and governor have the opportunity to pass game-changing laws this session. And, Congress may finally move forward on common sense reform. That will only happen if we all speak out, contact our elected representatives, and call for equal pay for all New York women, now.
Linda R. Gush, co-president, League of Women Voters Saratoga County