Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Closing the Wage Gap Would Significantly Improve Families’ Finances

Women have higher rates of economic insecurity than do men.  In 2013, women were more likely to live in poverty (14.5 percent of women compared to 11.0 percent of men).[24] Women are thus more likely to rely on public benefits like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), and housing assistance.[25] Bringing women’s earnings in line with men’s earnings would greatly improve the economic situation for women and their families.  An additional $10,876 per year is enough to: 
. . . pay the median cost of rent and utilities for a year with nearly $700 to spare, or the median mortgage payment and utilities for nearly a year months,[26]
Almost 1.4 million properties nationwide defaulted on a mortgage in 2013.[27] Earnings lost due to the wage gap could have made a substantial difference in helping these families stay in their homes.  They could also affect whether a family can afford to pay rent.
. . . or feed a household of four for a year and five months with more than $100 to spare,[28]
The difficult economy has stretched family budgets for basic needs, particularly for households headed by women. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, women were about 61 percent of nonelderly adult recipients and 64 percent of elderly adult recipients. Additionally, more than half (57 percent) of all SNAP households with children were headed by a single adult, 92 percent of whom were women.[29] With the continuing economic crisis, SNAP participation remains high: SNAP served 46.5 million people in 22.7 million households on average each month in FY 2014.[30]
. . . or pay a year and four months of full-time child care costs for a four-year-old with nearly $500 to spare,[31]
Child care expenditures consume a large percentage of families’ earnings, especially those earned by low-income and single mother families.  In Nebraska, the state at the national median for child care costs, providing care for a four-year-old represented 32.3 percent of a single mother’s income and 9.9 percent of a two-parent family’s income.[32]
In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, families living in poverty who paid for child care spent an average of 30.3 percent of their income on care, and families earning between 100 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line devoted an average of 18.0 percent of their income to care.  Even higher-income families (above 200 percent of the FPL) paying for child care spent 6.3 percent of their income on care.[33] If women took home the earnings lost due to the wage gap, this financial pressure would be partly alleviated.
. . . or pay for two years and five months of family health insurance premiums in an employer-sponsored health insurance program with over $200 to spare.[34]
Women spend a substantial amount of their income on out-of-pocket health costs and health insurance premiums, and they are more likely than men to experience serious financial hardship as a result of medical bills.  In 2010, the most recent year for which these statistics are available, one-third of working-age women spent 10 percent or more of their income on these expenses, and nearly one-third of women who had medical bill or debt problems were unable to pay for basic necessities like food, heat, or rent because of their medical bills.[35] Closing the wage gap would provide essential help for women to pay for their medical expenses.
 . . . or pay for two years and seven months of student loan payments with almost $100 to spare.[36]
Student loan payments can consume a considerable portion of a woman’s earnings, especially in the years immediately following post-secondary education. In 2013, it is estimated that seven in ten college seniors graduated with student loan debt.  The average debt for students with loans was $28,400.[37] Closing the wage gap would enable women to pay down student loan debt much faster.

Every Woman Matters.
Every Dollar Matters.
The Wage Gap Matters.

[24] NWLC, Insecure and Unequal: Poverty and Income Among Women and Families, 2000-2013 (Sept. 2014), available at http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/final_2014_nwlc_poverty_report.pdf.  Poverty rates are for people 18 and older.
[25] NWLC, Cutting Programs for Low-Income People Especially Hurts Women and Their Families (Feb. 2015), available at http://www.nwlc.org/resource/cutting-programs-low-income-people-especially-hurts-women-and-their-families.
[26] Supra note 1 – Rent and Utilities. Median housing cost for owners was $929 per month in 2013. 
[27] RealtyTrac®, 1.4 Million U.S. Properties with Foreclosure Filings in 2013 Down 26 Percent to Lowest Annual Total Since 2007 (Jan. 16, 2014), available at http://www.realtytrac.com/content/news-and-opinion/2013-year-end-us-foreclosure-report-7963. Data are from the 2013 Year-End Foreclosure Report.
[28] Supra note 1 – Groceries.
[29] Kelsey Farson Gray, Mathematica Policy Research, Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2013, at xviii  and 50 (Dec. 2014), available athttp://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ops/Characteristics2013.pdf.
[30] NWLC calculations from USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Data (March 6, 2015), available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/34SNAPmonthly.htm  (last visited April 10, 2015). 
[31] Supra note 1 – Child Care. 
[32] Id. at Appendix 3. 
[33] U.S. Census Bureau, Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011, Detailed Tables, Table 6: Average Weekly Child Care Expenditures of Families with Employed Mothers that Make Payments, by Age Groups and Selected Characteristics: Spring 2011 (2013), available athttp://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sipp/data/tables/2008-panel/2011-....
[34] Supra note 1 – Health Insurance Premiums.
[35] R. Robertson and S.R. Collins, The Commonwealth Fund, Women at Risk: Why Increasing Numbers of Women Are Failing to Get the Health Care They Need and How the Affordable Care Act Will Help (2011),available at http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Publications/Issue-Briefs/2011/May/Women-at-Risk.aspx.
[36] Supra note 1 –Loan Payments.
[37] Id.


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