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A state-by-state analysis has shown West Virginia has the third largest cents-on-the-dollar gender pay gap in the nation. 

A woman employed full time, year-round in West Virginia is typically paid 72 cents for every dollar paid to a man — a yearly pay difference of $12,801.

Released for Equal Pay Day, the analysis shows West Virginia women lose a combined total of more than $4.4 billion each year to the gender wage gap.

The research, conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows if the wage gap were closed, in-state women could afford 100 more weeks of food; nearly 13 more months of mortgage and utility payments; 1.6 additional years of tuition and fees for a four-year public university; the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college; nearly 19 more months of rent; or more than 21 additional months of child care each year.

“The gender-based wage gap results in staggering losses that make it harder for women, in West Virginia and across the country, to pay for food and shelter, child care, college tuition, birth control and other health care,” said Vicki Shabo, National Partnership Vice President for Workplace Policies and Strategies. “We urgently need public policies that improve women’s access to decent-paying jobs, provide the supports women need to stay in the workforce and advance in their jobs, and ensure fair and nondiscriminatory treatment wherever women work and whatever jobs they hold.”

The analysis said there is a gender-based wage gap in every single state and the District of Columbia. The cents-on-the-dollar gap is largest in Louisiana and Utah, followed closely by West Virginia and Montana, and smallest in New York, California and Florida.

Throughout the nation, white non-Hispanic women are typically paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men; Black women, 63 cents; and Latinas, 54 cents. Asian women are paid 87 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, although some ethnic subgroups of Asian women fare much worse.

The wage gap for mothers is 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.

“Equal Pay Day is a disturbing reminder that women overall have had to work more than three months into 2018 just to catch up with what men were paid in 2017, and Black women and Latinas must work considerably further into the year,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “The wage gap cannot be explained by women’s choices. It’s clear that discrimination contributes to it – and equally clear that it’s causing grave harm to women, families and the country.”

Ness said lawmakers have not done enough to end wage discrimination based on gender and race; to end sexual harassment; to stop discrimination against pregnant women; to advance paid family and medical leave and paid sick days; and to increase access to high-quality, affordable reproductive health care.

“If our country is to thrive, we must root out bias in wages, reject outdated stereotypes and stop penalizing women for having children and caring for their families.”

The National Partnership is urging Congress to pass the following:  

• The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women;

• The Fair Pay Act, which would diminish wage disparities that result from gender-based occupational segregation;

• The Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days;

• The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program;

• The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would update and strengthen protections against discrimination against pregnant workers;

• The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, which would restore abortion coverage to women who receive health care or insurance through the federal government and prohibit political interference with health insurance companies that offer coverage for abortion care; and

• Measures that would increase the minimum wage, eliminate the tipped minimum wage and strengthen protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Findings for each state from the National Partnership’s new wage gap analysis are available at NationalPartnership.org/Gap

— Email: wholdren@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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