Finance

Ohio has one of the worst wage gaps in the nation, a new report finds

Photo courtesy of Marius Boatca, via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/b6RR1x
Written by Olivia Miltner

Women in Ohio make 75 cents for every dollar paid to men, the 10th largest wage gap in the U.S., a report released last week found. The report also showed a larger wage gap for women of color.

The analysis, conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families, looked at the median yearly pay for women and men who work full-time year round according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“You can see that (in) Ohio, overall the pay gap is 5 cents on the dollar bigger than the national gap, and the gap for black women is about the same as the national gap. For Latina women it’s a bit better than nationally,” said Sarah Fleisch Fink, director of workplace policy and senior counsel at the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Explanations for why such wage gaps exist are difficult to pinpoint, but one reason can be because different industries tend to have their own wage gaps. Therefore, a higher concentration of industries with small or large wage gaps can affect the overall gap in a particular state, Fleisch Fink said.

Other factors, such as education and work patterns, can contribute. Public policy scholar Anne-Marie Slaughter argued, for example, that women are traditionally family caretakers, so they receive a “care penalty” that men don’t typically share.

“If you take women who don’t have caregiving obligations, they’re almost equal with men. It’s somewhere in the 95 percent range. But when women then have children, or again are caring for their own parents or other sick family members who need care, then they need to work differently,”  Slaughter said in a Planet Money episode.

However, even when these aspects are controlled, Fink said a portion of the wage gap is still unexplained.

“What we know is that there has been research and there are a number of studies, and even when you account for things like education or industry or work patterns, there’s still a gender wage gap. And the data’s very clear,” Fleisch Fink said, noting that her organization’s report is an overview and doesn’t explore these complexities.

“The unexplained portion, so the portion that can’t be explained by these things like education and industry and work patterns, is estimated to be about 38 percent of the gap, which is about 8 cents,” she said.

To adequately address the various factors contributing to the wage gap, Fleisch Fink said businesses and policymakers could implement various practices, from making filing discrimination cases easier to preventing employers from using prior salaries to set someone’s pay.

The report found eliminating the wage gap would mean women would have enough money annually to afford 21 more months of child care or almost two years worth of food for her family.

“We know that these real expenses, the real tangible items like food and child care, rent and mortgage payments that women could afford if there wasn’t a gap, are significant … especially when we know the important role women play in their families, the important economic and financial contributions that they’re making,” Fleisch Fink said.

Although Ohio’s 25-cent gap ranks toward the bottom of U.S. states, the places with the largest differences were Wyoming, Louisiana, West Virginia, Utah and North Dakota. Those with the smallests gaps were New York, Delaware and Florida, the report found.

About the author

Olivia Miltner

Olivia is the co-director of research and development at The New Political. She is in her fourth year at Ohio University majoring in journalism and war and peace. Olivia has interned at WOSU’s 89.7 NPR News and the Central Ohio American Red Cross. She is from Columbus, Ohio, and she loves animal videos. Previously, Olivia was the editor in chief, the state editor and a state writer. Follow her on Twitter @omiltner.

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