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Unmarried Women and the Wage Gap

January 27, 2016

Seven years ago, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as a step toward closing the pay gap between men and women. Progress has been made since then, but women still only make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, and the disparity is even greater for unmarried women, who earned just 69 percent compared to every dollar a man makes.

One out of every two women in the United States is unmarried – divorced, separated, widowed or never been married – and their numbers are growing rapidly. This November, for the first time in our history there will be more unmarried women eligible to vote than married women.

But unmarried women are living in a very different, harsher economic reality than married women:

  • Unmarried women are twice as likely as married women to be unemployed. (7.3% unmarried women; 3.1% married women)
  • Unmarried women are four times as likely as married women to be living in poverty. (21.7% unmarried women; 5.6% married women)
  • Unmarried women are more than three times more likely than married women to earn the minimum wage (45.4% unmarried women; 13.5% married women) or below minimum wage (49.7% unmarried women; 15.9% unmarried women)

Clearly, for unmarried women, “equal pay can’t wait.” But at the current rate, the pay gap won’t be eliminated for more than 100 years. That’s why we are applauding state lawmakers in more than 20 states who will celebrate the 7th Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Act on January 29th by joining a nationally-coordinated effort to introduce legislation in their states to ensure women are paid equally for doing the same work as men.

See what the wage gap is in your state. The disparity from state to state is startling.