Pacific Standard: The New American Inequality

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By Vanessa Hua

Yet the gender wage gap persists, with women working full-time making only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. Families in which women are the sole or primary source of income — that’s 40 percent of households with children under the age of 18 — are hit especially hard, with the wage gap contributing to income inequality. If the country’s single mothers — 10 million of them, according to the latest U.S. Census — earned as much as men in comparable circumstances, their annual family incomes would jump by $6,596 on average, or nearly 21 percent. The poverty rate for such families would drop almost by half, to 16 percent.

Half the gender wage gap is due to women working in different kinds of occupations than men, and a new initiative by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research addresses these discrepancies in an effort to lift women out of poverty and reduce income inequality. The initiative encourages women with relevant skills to get training and certification for “middle-skill,” higher-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, information technology, transportation, and logistics. A library assistant, for example — with her skills in working in a database, coding information, and interacting with others — could become a computer support-staff worker. At present, women hold just 11 percent of these more lucrative, middle-skill jobs.

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Narrow the Wage Gap through Access to Good Jobs

Half of the gender wage gap is due to women working in different occupations and sectors than men. Improving women’s access to good middle-skill jobs can help close the wage gap and improve women’s economic security.

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