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The Wage Gap

Por Mariel Fiori
March 2024
March 14th is Pi Day, also National Equal Pay Day. This symbolic day represents how much longer in the year women must work to earn what men earned the previous year. In other words, it highlights the extent of the gendered wage gap in our society.

According to the statistics from the Department of Labor of New York State, while New York's gender wage gap is the second smallest in the United States, women in New York still earned 88 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2021. Over a 40-year career, this gap would cost a woman $350,360 in diminished lifetime earnings. The gap is even larger for women racialized by their skin color. Compared to non-Hispanic white men, black or African American women are paid around 68 cents per dollar, while Hispanic and Latina women are paid only 63 cents per dollar.

Governor Hochul stated, "Too many women in the workforce are still denied equal pay for equal work, and as the first female governor of New York, I am determined to get things right. My administration is fully committed to closing the gender wage gap, especially for single mothers and racially marginalized women disproportionately affected because better working conditions for women mean a stronger and fairer economy for everyone."

The DOL recommends in the report: increasing the wages of poorly paid workers; expanding paid parental leave to the state workforce represented by unions; raising awareness about the Equal Rights Amendment of the State of New York; improving data collection statewide to better capture employment trends and increase transparency; and modernizing the testing model of the Civil Service Department. To fulfill these and other recommendations, the Department of Labor would need more resources, something being requested from the governor to include in this year's budget.

Since taking office, Governor Hochul enacted pioneering legislation to protect reproductive rights, announced the largest investment in childcare in the state's history, enacted statewide salary transparency laws to end wage gaps, and signed historic bills to empower survivors of sexual violence and harassment.

Despite all these advances, the wage gap between men and women, and between Latina women and the rest, remains an open wound. Nationally, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) states that at the current rate of progress, Latinas will not achieve wage equality for another 432 years.

Recently, the nonprofit research, planning, and training organization Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress presented a report showing that our Hudson Valley region has lost over 27 percent of its licensed childcare facilities in just the last 15 years. Some parts of the region, like Sullivan and Columbia counties, have lost over 60 percent of businesses that educate and care for our youngest children.

Five of our cities (Hudson, Kingston, Middletown, Newburgh, and Poughkeepsie), according to the report, have lost over half of their licensed providers during that time, emphasizing that the shortage of childcare is both a rural and urban problem. Nationally, women's labor force participation rate drops by 17 percent once they become mothers, underscoring the disproportionate impact of childcare cost and availability on working mothers.

Federal authorities say that childcare should not cost more than 7% of household income. However, middle-income families in the Hudson Valley pay between 13% and 15% of their income for childcare, and many pay substantially higher proportions of their income if they earn less than average, have more than one child, or are single parents. At the same time, childcare workers earn some of the lowest wages of all employees in the region. Most earn just over $30,000 per year, and many qualify for housing vouchers, SNAP benefits, and other public assistance programs.

And do you know who the majority of childcare workers are? Women. As the AAUW states, "Money is power, and women will never be equal to men until they achieve full parity in income and wealth." I wholeheartedly agree.

Mariel Fiori
Managing Editor

* Translated from Spanish by Nohan Meza
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