SALT LAKE CITY – A new study from the American Association of Utah shows the state now has America’s biggest gender wage gap.
In honor of Equal Pay Day, researchers released pay gap findings for each state. In Utah, a woman would have to work until she’s 77 years old to make what a man makes by the time he is 60 years old.
The research concluded that a woman with a full-time, year-round job in Utah makes 70-cents to every man’s dollar, adding up to nearly $8.4 billion annual loss attributed to the gender wage gap.
“It's important to look at Utah's demographics,” said Carrie Mayne, chief economist for Utah’s Department of Workforce Services.
The gender gap exists for several reasons; women have more children than average in Utah, and when they take breaks in their careers they lose their bargaining power when they return to the workforce.
Another issue is women tend to take lower paying jobs.
“When you get these imbalances in those occupational mix, that plays out in wages and grows that gap,” said Mayne.
Susan Madsen, a Utah Valley University professor, also heads up the Utah Women & Leadership project. She points out that compared to the rest of the nation, women in Utah attend and graduate from college in lower percentages than women in other states, hurting their earning potential.
Madsen says it’s important to study the problems before they can come up with solutions. In this year’s legislative session, a proposal to study gender wage disparity in Utah government was shut down without a vote.
"It is documented in study after study that there is a wage gap. And until people admit that there's no way we're going to make some progress,” said Madsen.