MADISON, Wis. — Pay inequality for women persists as April 10, 2018 marks the day women would on average have to work until in order to equal the wage earned by a man in calendar year 2017. The disparity is slightly larger for women in Wisconsin, and much worse for women of color. And that, according to One Wisconsin Now Program Director Analiese Eicher, makes Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 repeal of a state equal pay law and opposition to common sense proposals like student loan refinancing even more onerous for Wisconsin families.
“Women making less than men for doing the same work is a bad situation that hurts them and their families,” commented Eicher. “And when Scott Walker and Republicans in the legislature repealed the state equal pay law and to this day oppose policies to relieve burdens like student loan debt they are making it worse.”
The wage gap adds up an estimated $900 billion plus annually in pay not earned by women that could have been used to pay for necessities like child care, food and housing based on an analysis of U.S. Census data by the National Partnership for Women and Families. They found that nationally women holding year round, full time jobs earn an average of 80 cents on the dollar when compared to men holding year round, full time jobs. In Wisconsin, the wage gap leaves women making 78 cents on the dollar. The research finds the numbers are even more dismal for women of color with Black women making 63 cents and Hispanic women making 54 cents on the dollar when compared to white men.
According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), gender pay disparities also resulted in student loan debt repayment disparities. Men who graduated from college in 2008 paid off over 40 percent of their student debt between 2009 and 2012, while women barely topped 30 percent. That disparity exists despite significantly larger percentages of women than men, 53 percent versus 39 percent, devoting a percentage of their income to paying off their student debt that is more than what an individual could “reasonably afford.” AAUW also found even larger pay gaps for women of color, meaning even more struggles in dealing with their student loan debt burden.
Eicher noted how Walker state Republicans have managed to make a bad economic situation even worse for women and families in Wisconsin. In 2012 they repealed a state equal pay law, leaving Wisconsin as one of only five states in the nation without one. Under the provisions of the law women could have sought redress in state courts for being paid less than their male counterparts for doing the same work.
Walker and his gang have also opposed legislation that would help women and men lower their student loan debt payments by helping them refinance their loans, just like you can with a mortgage.
She concluded, “Wisconsin Women continue to face a gender wage gap in the workplace and they and their families continue to face both the economic challenges that come with that and the disappointment that the governor and the majorities in the legislature are taking a bad situation and making it worse.”