U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor was joined by small business and community leaders today for a roundtable discussion about the challenges facing women when it comes to equal pay in the workplace and the effect that has on our local economy. Castor urges the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this afternoon and encourages the House to bring this critical legislation to a vote.
"The Paycheck Fairness Act helps us address the wage gap that still exists," Castor said. "We have not made enough progress. I am disappointed we are still facing these issues in 2012 but this legislation would be a big step in the right direction."
Women's lost income means less money spent in our local economy. If women earned as much as men, a woman working full-time, year-round would have enough money for approximately 92 more weeks of food, seven more months of mortgage and utility payments, 13 more months of rent, 35 more months of family health insurance or 2,571 additional gallons of gas.
"This isn't only about equal pay," Castor said. "This is also about the money that is not being spent right here in the Tampa Bay region and the impact on our local economy."
Women working full time are paid, on average, 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. In Florida, women are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. That means working Florida women lose more than $20 million each year due to the wage gap, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
"If you have lower levels of compensation, that affects your Social Security benefits, your retirement earnings and your ability to buy groceries and other necessities," Castor said. "We need to confront this persistent problem of gender bias in the work place."
The Paycheck Fairness Act would empower employees to discuss their compensation without retaliation. It would also require employers to prove pay disparities exist for legitimate reasons. It also would create a negotiation skills program for women and help businesses enact equal pay practices.