Equal Pay Day: Unmarried Women Bear Brunt of Pay Gap

Equal Pay Day falls on April 14th, marking just how far into the year a woman must work to earn as much as a man. Together with Lake Research Partners, the Voter Participation Center has been crunching the numbers to better understand the impact this unfair pay gap has on unmarried women.

Women on average make 80 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man makes. But this gender difference in pay is far greater for unmarried woman, who must work even longer to earn as much as a married man. In 2014, an unmarried woman had to work more than 19 months, to August 2015, to earn what a married man earned in just 12 months. In the most recent data on 2014 available from the U.S. Census Bureau, unmarried women made just 61 cents compared to every dollar a married man earned. This is a drop of 1 cent as compared to the 2013 disparity, and a decrease of 2 cents from 2012. Even while the economy appears to improve, unmarried women are being left behind.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama once again pledged his support for equal pay legislation and called on Congress to act. Despite a stronger economy and a sympathetic White House, many of the gaps in pay between men and women are growing, especially for unmarried women, women of color, and unmarried women of color. As the presidential campaign kicks off, policy advocates must take the lead in finding creative solutions to close this gap and make sure workers earn what they are worth. This is an important issue that affects the lives of many Americans, especially unmarried women trying to raise a family.

Of the 3.3 million Americans earning at or below minimum wage, 62.4 percent are women and 48.7 percent are unmarried women. With more than four-in-ten births (40.6 percent) now to single mothers, the gender discrimination in pay between unmarried women and the other Americans will have significant implications for future generations. Unmarried women with children under 18 make only 65 cents on the dollar compared to men and only 54 cents on the dollar when compared to married men. Child care programs will disproportionately help these unmarried mothers, and, without the needed policies, the pay gap will continue to grow.

To see how the marriage gap and gender gap combine to affect pay for Americans at a local level, VPC analyzed pay in all 50 states. The results are startling. In Virginia, for example, unmarried women on average earn $37,800 a year, or just 63 percent of what men earn on average in Virginia. In Colorado, unmarried women earn 67 percent of what men earn and in California it's 71 percent.

To check out our entire state list and see how your state ranks, please visit: http://www.voterparticipation.org/equal-pay-by-state.

With 2016 candidates already staking out their positions and the president adamant about addressing economic inequality in his last two years, there is hope that the debate about pay and inequality will benefit unmarried women.