The retail sector is an integral part of the Los Angeles landscape with almost half a million
workers in the county, and 147,157 workers in the city. Retail makes up one-tenth of
the private sector workforce in the county and is its second largest employer. Yet more
than half of the county’s workforce earn low wages. In the past few years, local and
statewide policies have focused on transforming low-wage work, including a raise in the
minimum wage, increased worker protections, and required paid time off. Despite the
statewide strengthening of workers’ rights protections, the unreliable hours and unpredictable
schedules endemic in the retail industry mean these benefits become inaccessible
to many workers. In part, the retail industry relies on scheduling practices that are
not good for workers, such as forcing them to wait for their weekly schedules with only
a few days notice. These practices not only undercut workers’ hours and their expectations
thereof, but also their incomes, and can make it nearly impossible for workers to
realize full and healthy lives.
Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector explores worker hours
and scheduling practices for “frontline floor” staff that include salespersons, cashiers,
stockers, and food workers in large and chain stores. We used a participatory and research
justice approach and worked with students, workers, and community partners to
collect and analyze the data. Using mixed-sampling methodology, we collected a total
of 818 surveys. In addition, we analyzed government data and conducted an extensive
review of existing policy and academic literature on the topic.
On Wednesday, the Washington Legislature officially passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act (HB 1506), the first update to the state’s equal pay law since 1943. This historic measure requires any gender disparity in pay to be backed up with legitimate job-related factors-such as education, training, or experience-instead of unfair assumptions and practices.
A bill at the State Capitol is gaining momentum in the movement to help women in the workplace earn just as much as their male counterparts.
According to the Hawaii Appleseed Center, women in Hawaii make 16% less than men.
“The problem is that women are paid less than men for doing the same work. Its ridiculous in this decade in a supposedly developed nation,” said Susan Wurtzburg of AAU Hawaii.
The bill serves employers a one-two punch-prohibiting them from asking a job applicant about their previous wage history. Senator Laura Thielen says in many cases, where people previously were underpaid, it is perpetuated in successive jobs.
In Indiana, women earn less, own less, and experience poverty more often than men. These gaps raise important questions about identity, opportunity, and well-being, and they suggest that our systems could and should be structured differently to promote broader prosperity.
Wage gaps: In 2016 in Indiana, the median earnings of full time male workers were $12,717 higher than the median earnings of full time female workers. This is a 26 percent wage gap. Even as the nation’s wage gap narrowed between 2015 and 2016, Indiana’s wage gap widened 2 percentage points. The Hoosier gender wage gap is now the 6th highest in the nation, not far behind Louisiana and Utah, which, at 30 percent, are tied for the highest in the nation. Within Indiana, there is considerable variation from county to county, with some counties in Indiana showing nearly a 40 percent gap, while others have gaps in the teens.
Particular groups of Hoosier women experience even larger gaps. Black and biracial women experience a gap of 36 percent and the gap between Latinas and all Hoosier men who work full time is 44 percent – a difference of $21,567 per year. Median earnings for women with disabilities is $18,761 – $7428 less than the median earnings of men with disabilities and $21,269 less than men without disabilities. Acknowledging and addressing the distinctive and significant barriers to financial well-being that particular women face because of overlapping social identities is of critical importance.
Wealth gaps. While wage gaps in and of themselves result in significant differences in wealth over a lifetime, these gaps in wealth are compounded by the effect that depressed wages have on the ability of women to save, invest, and use credit. Nationally, there is a gap of 68 percent between the net worth of single men and single women. While a similar figure is not available at the state level, data suggest that Hoosier women disproportionately lack access to the building blocks of wealth. While more single women are buying homes, only 49 percent of female householders own homes as compared to 58 percent of male householders. And just 22 percent of businesses with paid employees are women-owned.
Research also suggests that women have less tucked away for retirement, they take longer to pay down debts like student loans, and are more likely to use higher-cost loan products. This leaves women more vulnerable to financial shocks and less able to retire with dignity.
Poverty gaps. Women are more likely to experience poverty than men. Statewide, 15.4 percent of women had incomes below the poverty line in 2016, while only 12.7 percent of men experienced poverty. Looking by family type, single mothers experience significantly higher poverty rates than married couples and single fathers: nearly 40 percent of single mothers had incomes below the poverty line in 2016. In some counties, more than half of single mothers experienced poverty.
Why do gaps persist? Both our country and our state have made progress in closing wage gaps over time, in part because we have taken significant steps to address the explicit and pervasive forms of workplace discrimination women once faced and because women today have more education and workplace experience relative to generations past. However, there are still significant hurdles to overcome. Men and women make choices about their careers, investments, and families in the context of different social expectations and constraints. Socialization that instills gender biases and limiting beliefs contributes to ongoing occupational and industry segregation, discrimination, and unequal divisions of labor within families. And with unequal access to workplace supports for caregiving and low wage floors, choices and opportunities to achieve financial well-being are limited in ways that not only put women at a disadvantage, but also harm Hoosier children and depress our economic progress.
Policy solutions. State policymakers can take a number of steps to address wage, wealth, and poverty gaps, including, but not limited to:
Giving women the tools to address pay disparities through a stronger equal pay law and collective bargaining
Ensuring that women and men know all their career pathway options, examine limiting beliefs based on gender, and make informed decisions through equity-focused professional development for K-12 teachers and improved career counseling.
Facilitating work-life balance and supports for both men and women to engage in caregiving through paid family leave, childcare supports, paid sick and safe time, fair scheduling, and accommodations during pregnancy and nursing.
Assuring access to family-sustaining wages by raising the minimum wage, removing barriers to postsecondary education, and increasing tax credits that support low-wage earners.