Assemblywomen Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Pamela Lampitt re-emphasized the need for gender pay equity in New Jersey and vowed to continue their fight to combat the wage gap following a study from the National Women’s Law Center that revealed that African American women in New Jersey are earning much less than white, non-Hispanic men across all income levels and occupations.
Muoio and Lampitt sponsored bill (A-2750) to modify current law, including the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), to strengthen protections against employment discrimination and promote equal pay for women. It was conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie in May.
According to the study, New Jersey has the second-widest gender pay gap for African American women. The study found that while all women earn less than men, making 79 cents for every dollar men are paid, the wage gap is even larger for African American women who work full time, year round. These women are paid only 60 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This gap means that African American women have to work nearly 20 months to make as much as white, non-Hispanic men did in the previous 12-month calendar year, according to the study.
Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon): It’s been over 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law by John F. Kennedy. Since then, women’s increased presence in the workforce has added a $20 trillion boost to our economy. And while there has been significant narrowing of the 40 cent pay gap that existed in the early 1960’s, women still make approximately 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Women of color and Latinas fare even worse, earning 60 cents and 55 cents on the dollar respectively.
Depressed earnings have immediate impact on women as they struggle to pay for childcare, housing and basic necessities. In the long term, fewer earnings hinder a woman’s ability to save for retirement and reduce her contributions to social security, pension plans and personal retirement accounts.
In New Jersey, even though the current occupant in the Governor’s office has made clear he is willing to ignore the need for action, we must continue to put forth legislation that addresses all of the issues that are holding our women back from reaching the top of the pay scales and earning the wages they deserve.
Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington): Yesterday the National Women’s Law Center published a study stating that the wage gap for African American women in New Jersey is the second widest in the nation. Each year, an African American woman working in New Jersey can expect to lose $30,790, adding up to $1,231,600 over a 40 year career. For an African American woman to earn what a white man earns in 40 years, she would need to work nearly 30 years longer. As we continue to try and combat the gender wage gap, reports like this remind us of the importance of our work.
Governor Christie has repeatedly vetoed legislation to close the wage gap here in the Garden State, most recently back in May with his veto of my legislation, A-2750, which would have established protections to prevent employment discrimination and ensure wage equality.
We cannot stand idly by and watch while African American women make 60 cents to every dollar a white man makes. The gender wage gap is real and can be found across nearly every occupation. I will continue to fight for pay equity for all women in our state and search for new solutions to close the gender wage gap.