Colorado Women & Their Families Deserve Equal Pay

Colorado Women Equal PayBy Erin Castillo

Colorado women are breadwinners in 201,000 family households across the state. For 25 percent of those homes living below the poverty level, every penny counts, especially the ones women miss out on due to the Colorado pay gap.

If current trends continue, women in Colorado will not see equal pay until the year 2057. Right now, women in our state only bring home 81 cents for every dollar a man earns. That means Colorado mothers, wives, grandmothers, and sisters miss out $14.5 billion each year due to the pay gap, money that could go toward strengthening both families and our economy.

Related: Colorado’s Economy — Strong, But Uneven

Without a pay gap, Colorado women could afford a year of tuition and fees for a four-year public university or the full cost of a two-year community college program for themselves or a child. Without a pay gap, 57 percent of over 748,000 Colorado kids with working mothers would benefit from the additional earnings. Without a pay gap, our state’s poverty rate could fall from 5.6 percent to 2.8 percent. Without a pay gap, $9.2 billion could’ve been added to to Colorado’s GDP in 2014. These are just some of the economic advantages for families, communities, and all of Colorado when women receive the pay they deserve and we close the Colorado pay gap.

Related: Testimony: End Prior Compensation Information Practices

But this week called attention to a scary reality: Some Colorado women (and their families) fall victim to even larger disparities in pay because of their race.

Over 70 percent of black mothers in the U.S. are the breadwinners in their home, but despite great strides in higher education achievement and the highest rate in labor force participation amongst women in the country, black women only take home 64 cents for every dollar their white male counterparts earn in Colorado.

Related: Testimony: Support Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

While Black Women’s Equal Pay Day successfully highlighted the challenges black working women face, it also underscored the income inequity of other women of color. In Colorado, for example, Native American women make 58 cents for every dollar men earn. For Hispanic and Latina women, the Colorado pay gap widens to 54 cents.

What does it say for economic opportunity here in Colorado if women of color and those they provide for are left behind? As a state, we need to work toward  economic opportunity for all Coloradans, and that means closing the pay gap.

Stay tuned and look out for Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day on November 2 this year.

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