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Phoenix officials declare Tuesday as Equal Pay Day

(Unsplash Photo)

PHOENIX — Tuesday was declared Equal Pay Day in Phoenix as city leaders sought to bring attention to the gender wage gap.

April 4 was selected specifically because it demonstrates how many more months women must work to match what men earned in the previous year.

“I’m sorry that we are here today, and it’s not January first,” Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego said. “It would be nice if we could close the pay gap.”

Full-time Arizona female workers earn 84 cents to a male worker’s dollar. Arizona State University professor Nancy Jurik said the National Partnership for Women and Families calculated how big that gap really is.

“Arizona women who are employed full-time lose a combined total of $6 billion dollars a year to the wage gap,” she said. “Over 300,000 family households in Arizona are headed by women. Ninety-five thousand households of those families have incomes that fall below the poverty level.”

On the other hand, Gallego said, Phoenix is seeing progress toward closing its pay gap.

“One of the things we’ve learned is that when women hold leadership positions is that it’s easier to close the pay gap.

“With this March election, the city council is now fifty-fifty men and women. Since we last marked Equal Pay Day, women lead the four largest departments at the city of Phoenix.”

Among those women are Police Chief Jeri Williams and Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner.

The reasons for the wage gap continue to be debated, as well as whether there is one. Pew Research Center recently published an update to a 2014 study that showed full-time female workers aged 25-34 are making 90 cents to every male dollar.

Nationwide, women are making 83 cents to every male dollar. The study was conducted by analysis of average hourly earnings for both full-and part-time U.S. workers.

Pew Research said, according to its study, women as a whole are still overrepresented in lower-paying occupations, such as hospitality and retail. This may also contribute to the wage gap.

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