Full-time working women in South Carolina are paid $8,638 less than their male counterparts, and the gap costs South Carolina’s families a total of nearly $5 billion annually.
Those were the findings of a new study released by the National Partnership for Women & Families, in conjunction with the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
The National Partnership’s research on the wage gap was released the day before Equal Pay Day — which marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before
According to the report, 69 percent of South Carolina women bring in more than a quarter of their families’ income and women head more than 255,000 households.
The data illustrates “the very real harm” unequal wages are doing to families and the state economy, said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
“It is long past time to close the gender-based wage gap. With women playing an increasingly important role as family breadwinners, there is no time to waste,” she said.
According to the report, if the gap between men’s and women’s wages were eliminated, each full-time working woman in the state could afford mortgage and utility bills for seven more months, rent for 12 more months, or 2.5 more years of family health insurance premiums.
Necessities like these would be particularly important for the 34 percent of women-headed households in South Carolina that are currently living below the poverty line.
“This research proves that the gender pay gap is not simply a numbers issue or a women’s issue,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda Hallman, CAE. “It’s a bread-and-butter issue. It’s an everyday issue for people who are trying to support their families and provide for their futures. No more lip service, it’s time to act.”
South Carolina is not the only state with a wage gap, the report said. Every state has one.
Nationally, women working full-time are paid an average of only 77 cents for every dollar paid to full-time working men. The gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. At that pace, working women won’t come close to being paid the same amount as men until 2058.
“Unless lawmakers and employers make eliminating the wage gap a priority once and for all, generations of women and their families are going to continue to suffer due to unfair pay and discrimination,” Ness said. “That’s why the re-introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act in Congress is so essential. This legislation is critically important to efforts to end wage discrimination and ensuring that working women are paid fairly.”