Community Development

What Economic Security Means to Women

 

People often ask me: What does economic security mean to women? If you look up economic security, you get a variety of definitions.  Perhaps one of the more comprehensive ones is from Insight Center for Community Economic Development, “Economic security means not just hovering above the ‘official’ federal poverty line, but having enough money … to be able to pay for the basics like rent, food, child care, health care, transportation, and taxes, and enough money to develop savings and assets.”

Not to beat an old drum, but women are still making only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. Most of us have heard this statistic, and perhaps not really thought much about it. Some argue that there has been significant progress since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, at which time women only made 59 cents on the dollar compared to men.  And that is progress but, when you break this down, the disparity really adds up over time. 

According to a report by the National Women’s Law Center, the wage gap costs women $10,784 dollars per year in median earnings. They expand on this pointing out that if you added up five months of childcare and insurance premiums ($4,508), four months of groceries and student loan payments ($3,564), three months of rent and utilities ($2,424), and five tanks of gas ($287), this amount equals the amount of money women lose to the income gap every year.  You know, paying for the necessities.

In Connecticut, according to the Basic Economic Security Tables report, one worker (with employment based benefits) with an infant spends $4,785 a month for all these necessities . That totals almost half of the missing wage gap.

Women’s economic security is family economic security. Wages earned effect future benefits, so every pay period that goes by will cost these families in pensions and social security benefits for years, even after we set this right.

*Alice Pritchard is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund.

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