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Equal Pay Day Nothing to Celebrate in Utah

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day across America, a day recognizing an ongoing wage gap among men and women in the U.S., and Utah has the 3rd largest pay disparity in the country.

The study, performed by the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group National Partnership for Women and Families, shows women in Utah earn 69 cents for every dollar paid to a man, compared to 77 cents on the dollar nationwide.

Sara Crawford, Director of Workplace Fairness at the National Partnership for Women and Families says this isn’t good for Utah’s economy.

“Eliminating the pay gap could provide critical income to those families living in poverty where women are the heads of households. The pay gap amounts to on average over 14,000 of lost income to working women in the state.”

She also explains that, nationwide, the gap has shrunk by 0.5% each year, which means at this rate it will take more than 40 years to close entirely.

The study also shows that nationally women with children are paid 2.5% less than women without children, while men with children experience a boost of 2.1% over men without children.

Lecia Parks-Langston, an economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services says while discrimination is responsible for a small piece of the puzzle most of Utah’s gap has to do with a disparity in the number of men and women in the state with an education:

“You just can’t sit back and say, well, I’m not going to get an education and expect to be paid as much as somebody who’s got a masters degree in engineering. So we need to take responsibility for our own economic choices.”

Parks-Langston says research shows choice of occupation and the number of hours worked also account for the state’s wage gap.
According to the study financial services industry has a noticeably larger gap, while the construction industry has the smallest.