Watching President Obama’s latest State of the Union address highlighted an embarrassing paradox we have in our country and in our state. He said, “Today, women make up half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong. And in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.”
We Utahns are proud of our economic growth, and rightly so. Nationally we rank as the “Best State for Business and Careers” by Forbes Magazine, three years running; the Kauffman Foundation acknowledges Utah number one for “Economic Dynamism,” Pollina Corporate lists Utah as the top pro-business state, and the US Chamber of Enterprising States ranks Utah 3rd in STEM job growth and business birth rate and 1st in high tech business economy.
But, and here’s the embarrassing paradox, according to a recent 24/7 Wall Street article when it comes to equal pay in the state, women are paid an average of 70 percent of what men are paid. What’s most embarrassing is that Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield rank #1 and #2 respectively as the worst-paying cities for women. At Provo-Orem a women’s median income is 61.6 percent of men’s (men’s median income $51,692, women’s median income $31,846) making it the largest disparity of any metro area. At Ogden-Clearfield, women’s median income is 65.2 percent of men’s (men’s median income $52,184, women’s median income $34,018.)
The typical full-time Utah working woman earns $34,062 a year, compared to $48,540 for a male — a gap of $14,478 annually. The Utah gap is 44 percent higher than the national gap of $10,061, and the fourth largest gap in the nation. With nearly 85,500 Utah households led by women, the economic impact is seismic.
Read my full op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune on 1 February 2014.