Today is Equal Pay Day, the annual observation of the persistent inequity between women and men’s average annual earnings in the U.S. If you’re a good progressive, there’s a fair chance your inbox and Facebook feed is full of alarming and informative emails and posts about the effects of the gender pay gap on women’s life time earnings, the racial disparities of the gender pay gap (today is not Equal Pay Day for African American or Latina women–those days are observed in August and October, respectively) and the actions you can take to fight the pay gap. Rep. Mary González’s op-ed, published in The El Paso Times today, is an excellent overview if you’re looking for an article to share with people who aren’t familiar with the basic facts about gender pay inequity in the U.S.
Unfortunately, not many Texans are talking about the latest news about the gender pay gap in our state: it’s actually getting worse, not better, for state employees.
In “Losing Ground,” the outstanding and necessary series recently published by The Dallas Morning News, David McSwane reports on the findings a comprehensive analysis of state employees’ wages.
A first-of-its-kind data analysis conducted by The Dallas Morning News shows that, compared with men, women earn about 2 cents less on the dollar today than they did in 2006, down from 94 cents to 92 cents.
Black and Hispanic workers are also falling further behind whites, the data show. For women of color, the gap is largest of all: In 2006, black and Hispanic women earned 86 and 87 cents on the white man’s dollar, respectively. Black women have lost 2 cents, while Hispanic women lost 5 cents.
To be sure, the gender pay gap in Texas state employees is far better than the state average of 79¢ for women overall, which widens to 59¢ and 44¢ for African American and Latina women, respectively. The problem here is that the gap is growing, not closing, a move in the opposite direction of national trends. Additionally, public sector jobs are a generally considered more equitable for women and people of color. The section on racial disparity in “Pay Gap” concludes that white men and women are “four times more likely than blacks and 3.6 times more likely than Hispanics to earn six-figure salaries.” Clearly, it’s time for the state of Texas to address the roles of gender and race in employment and staff development.
Not surprisingly, the guys in the governor’s don’t see it that way.
The News provided the data to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. Spokesman John Wittman, given more than a week to review the findings, declined to answer questions or directly address the analysis’ conclusions.
“The Office of the Governor hires the most qualified individuals, and employee salaries are commensurate with experience and job responsibilities,” Wittman wrote in an email. “To suggest otherwise would be irresponsible.”
In other words, nothing to see here, folks, just move along. A disproportionate number of women of color in low paying jobs? Not a problem. Huge disparity in higher paid and more influential jobs? Come on, those white guys and gals are super qualified.
It’s time to take a hard look in the mirror, Texas. Happy Equal Pay Day!