Union study: equal pay cuts poverty (fwd)

Jenny (jennyo@intergate.bc.ca)
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 23:49:50 -0800 (PST)


        WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A study by the AFL-CIO and the
Institute for Women's Policy Research says that if women earned the same
as men then the U.S. poverty rate would be cut in half.

        The state-by-state study says that 36 years after Congress passed
the Equal Pay Act, inequalities in pay is costing the families of working
women in the United States some $200 billion a year.

        The study being released Wednesday says if married women were paid
the same as men, their family incomes would rise nearly 6 percent, and
their poverty rate would decline from 2.1 percent to 0.8 percent.

        If single working mothers had equal pay, their incomes would go 17
percent and their poverty rate would be slashed from 25.3 percent to 12.
6 percent. And if single women earned the same as comparable men, their
incomes would rise by 13.4 percent, and poverty rates would drop from 6.
3 percent to 1 percent.

        The study says the average loss for families of working women is
$4,000 a year.  Economist Greg Tarpinian of the Labor Research Association
in New York said: ``If women were paid equal to men the 25-year decline in real
wages probably never would have happened. If women were paid equal to men,
there would be little left of the feeling that working people have that
the economic recovery has passed them by.''

        He said the cost of gaining equality ``is truly mind-boggling.''
``In order for women and working families to win, corporate chieftains and
Wall Street elites will have to give something up. Now we know, they have to
give up about $200 billion,'' he said.

        Using data from the Bureau of Census and the Bureau of Labor
Statistics researchers found the smallest wage gap -- the difference in
median weekly wages not adjusted for education, experience or hours of
work -- to be in Washington. There, women earn 97.1 percent of what men
earn, and minority women earn 82.4 percent of men's wages. However, the
study says the figures are skewed somewhat by the low wages for minority
men in Washington.

        The largest gap for all women was 62.9 percent in Wyoming and for
minorities 51.5 percent in Rhode Island.  Nationally, the some 4 million men
who work in jobs typically considered ``women's work'' -- clerical, child
care, librarian, etc. -- lose $6,259 per year in income because of pay
inequality.

        That part of the study compared workers in female-dominated jobs
to workers in male-dominated jobs in companies of the same size and
industry where gender, age, race, education, marital and parental status,
demographics and hours were comparable.

        The study also concludes that union membership makes a significant
difference in wages, increasing wages for minority men by as much as 44.
3 percent, or $177 per week, and for minority women by 38.6 percent, or
$135 per week.