Gender Wage Gap

Progress on closing the gap between men’s and women’s wages in the U.S. economy has been glacially slow in recent decades—and gender wage parity has become a top priority for those committed to ensuring the economic security of American women. This priority is absolutely essential. No matter how you cut it, the gender wage gap is real and it matters. That said, pay parity cannot be the only goal for those looking to improve the economic lot of American women.

A better workplace infrastructure means stronger labor standards that not only provide decent wages, but also let workers take care of themselves or family members when they are sick. Policies that help workers, particularly women, balance work and family could meaningfully improve their ability to participate in the labor force. And, this increase in labor force participation would mean more earnings for families and more economic activity for the country.

Publications

Closing the Gender Pay Gap in West Virginia

In 2016, West Virginia women earned just 72 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. The median earnings of full-time male workers were $12,801 higher than the median earnings of full-time women workers – a 28 percent pay gap. West Virginia has the largest pay gap out of all the surrounding states and the third highest in the nation. This is according to a West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy brief that takes a look at the full pay gap picture among working-age people throughout the state, why it exist, its short- and long-term impact and how policymakers can close the gap.

Economic Agenda for a Thriving Commonwealth: Improve Job Quality

Improving job quality and economic security is one of the five key strategies in KCEP’s “Economic Agenda for a Thriving Commonwealth.” Kentucky can make real progress in these areas by updating existing and enacting new commonsense job quality standards. The successful experience of states that raise standards shows businesses benefit through increased productivity, reduced turnover and stronger consumer spending. Our whole commonwealth will benefit when paychecks better reflect the contributions Kentuckians make through work every day, and when work supports rather than detracts from leading healthy, fulfilling lives.

The Gay Pay Gap in Washington and Impacts of Misogyny on LGBT Wages

Data show that men in same-sex marriages make less money than men in opposite-sex marriages, and women in same-sex marriages make more than women in opposite-sex marriages. This is consistent with finding from numerous national and international studies, which has found the trend to hold true even for people within the same occupation.

As with the gender pay gap, part of this is due to societal pressures and stereotypes placed on LGBT people. Gay men are pushed into feminine roles, and lesbians into masculine roles. As femininity is financially penalized in the United States and masculinity is incentivized, gay men suffer and lesbians profit (but not to the extent that straight men do).

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector

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.