April 17 is ‘Equal Pay Day’

April 17 is Equal Pay Day, a ‘holiday’ originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to boost public awareness of the gap between men’s and women’s wages. And here’s why: It’s taken until today, April 17, 2012, for women to earn the same wages men had earned by the end of 2011. That’s four additional months it’s taken women to earn what men earned in 2011 alone.

According to an analysis conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF), new data reveal the substantial costs of the gender-based wage gap. “The median yearly pay for women in the United States is $10,784 less than their male counterparts,” reports NPWF, and “African American women and Latinas fare worse, being paid $19,575 and $23,873 less than men, respectively.”

With 15 million households in the U.S. being headed by women, those lost wages loom large on working women and their children. The NPWF study shows that almost 30 percent of those households are living below the poverty level.

“Next year will mark 50 years since Congress enacted the Equal Pay Act,” said Diane Babineaux, Chief of Staff to the International President, “and progress has moved at a snail’s pace ever since. A good leap forward would be getting the Paycheck Fairness Act passed by Congress. All of us need to keep pressing our members of Congress until they get it done.”

The NPWF report spans all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes rankings of all the states by wage gap for all women, as well as for women of color. To find out how your state ranked, click here.