Women in North Carolina earn 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to a study released this week by the National Partnership for Women and Children. That adds up to an individual loss of nearly $8,200 every year, enough for a woman to pay almost ten months of rent, more than a year of college tuition, or sixty-four weeks of food for her and her family.
The collective deficit for all women across the state adds up to $22.4 billion each year. Across the nation, the gap is $900 billion.
The National Partnership drew its analysis from U.S. Census Bureau data and released its findings to coincide with Equal Pay Day today. The organization called on Congress to pass new measures that would address the pay gap directly, including increasing the minimum wage. Other proposed initiatives include the Paycheck Fairness Act, which bolsters protections for women in the workplace, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which aims to support pregnant workers.
In a broader analysis, the National Partnership indicated that inequalities persist within occupations. In sales, for example, women make only 62 cents for every dollar paid to men. In production, they make 70 cents to the dollar. Education level does not remove those disparities either. Full-time working women who have earned doctoral degrees earn less than men who have earned master’s degrees. And men with a bachelor’s degree make more money on average than women who have a master’s degree.
Although North Carolina fares marginally better than the national average of 79 cents to the dollar, the gap increases significantly among women of color. Compared with their white male counterparts, black women in North Carolina lose over $18,000 to the wage gap, and Latina women face a deficit of over $25,000 every year.
The National Partnership said that businesses also share responsibility for acknowledging and resolving the wage gap. In a statement, the advocacy group explained, “Companies can help level the playing field by increasing pay transparency, limiting the use of salary history, and using standardized pay ranges in hiring and promotions.”
Among all fifty states, Florida, California, and New York had the lowest degree of gender-based wage discrimination. Louisiana and Utah had the steepest gaps. There wasn’t a single state that didn’t face some degree of wage inequality between men and women.
The National Partnership’s study indicated that wage inequality is a top concern for women across the country. Only 28 percent of women in the U.S. say they are confident that they take home the same amount of money as men in their field, and 58 percent of women indicate that wage equality is one of the most significant issues facing women in the workplace today.
In a statement, National Partnership president Debra Ness said claims that wage disparity might be based entirely on women’s choices are unfounded.
“It’s clear that discrimination contributes to it—and equally clear that it’s causing grave harm to women, families, and the country,” Ness said. “If our country is to thrive, we must root out bias in wages, reject outdated stereotypes, and stop penalizing women for having children and caring for their families.”