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What Does the Gender Wage Gap Look Like in MS?

By Daniel Cherry | Published 05 Jun 2012 07:55pm | comments

A bill in Congress that would have forced employers to prove gender isn't a factor in wage difference, failed to reach the necessary 60 votes yesterday in the Democrat-controlled Senate. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on the gender wage gap in Mississippi.

For every dollar a man earns in Mississippi, a woman brings home about 75 cents according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Sarah Welker is a policy analyst for the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. She says even though women in Mississippi are more likely to have college education, pay hasn't caught up.

"That gap still exists, and that may be because women are less likely to assert themselves or bargain in the workplace. It also might be because employers are less likely to pay a 2nd earner in a family, more money."

Discrimination is part of the reason, but researchers say the root of wage disparities in Mississippi lies in career paths. Men are more likely to take higher-paying construction or manufacturing jobs, but Jamie Bardwell with the Women's Fund of Mississippi thinks women could take those jobs too.

"The Mississippi Coast is looking for welders. The shipbuilding industry is down there, and they need welders. Women could go into a welding career, they could make $20/hr vs. minimum wage in a food service."

Researchers estimate the gap eventually adds up to about ten thousand dollars a year. Bardwell says that money could go a long way for many women.

"We know that if women were earning that income that they would put that money back into the economy. So if you equal that out, it could be a year's worth of rent. It could be 2,500 gallons worth of gas."

Studies show on average, a woman working a full-time job will make only three quarters of what her male counterparts earn. 

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