Today April 4th is National Equal Pay Day, the date signifying the extra three months that women must work just to earn what their male counterparts did in the year before. As companies close the books on first quarter of 2017, we must sadly acknowledge that an American woman has to work five quarters to earn as much as the average man did in four. That’s unacceptable.
In South Jersey, the average woman earns about $10,000 less at work than her male counterpart. That gap is why I am again joining my colleagues in re-introducing The Paycheck Fairness Act in Congress.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is a commonsense way to help eliminate the gender wage gap and help families. It ensures that employers who try to justify paying a man more than a woman for the same job must show the disparity is not sex-based, but necessary and related to the job. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose salary information with their co-workers.
I am a son, husband, father and grandfather – I admire the women in my life and am outraged that blatant discrimination still exists. But let me be clear, while pay inequity certainly affects the women in our lives, it also affects our children, our families and our economy as a whole. Nationwide, 40% of all households include mothers who provide either the sole or primary source of income for their family and over 417,000 of New Jersey households have a woman as their chief breadwinner.
Lower wages create hardships for South Jersey families, making it harder to afford childcare or proper health care, and many are not able to save for their retirement. Conversely, if the large, unfair annual wage gap was eliminated, the average New Jersey woman would have enough money in her lifetime for:
- 90 more weeks of food for her family,
- Five more months of mortgage and utilities payments, and;
- Nearly 10 more years of rent.
Equal pay for equal work is something we should all be able to rally around in our workplaces, in our homes and here in Congress. I promise this year, and every year that I am representing the people of New Jersey in Congress, I will fight against gender inequality because it must never be overlooked until it is overcome.