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MA Named 6th Worst State for Equal Pay

Saturday, November 17, 2012

 

Despite its nickname of Taxachusetts, Mass was rated one of the worst states for equal pay between men and women, and has one of the worst wealth gaps in the country.

The Bay State landed in the top ten at 247WallSt.com, which provides national and global analysis. Mass residents are familiar with the state’s means of spreading wealth. The state pays more to raise the minimum wage and has a healthcare system that benefits low-income individuals and the elderly. But these efforts aside, Mass still has one of the largest gaps between male and female earners.

Unequal Pay: The Figures

Massachusetts landed at a low sixth spot on the list of wage gaps between women and men, based on the difference in male and female full-time, year-round median income. For Mass women, that amount totaled to $47,302 – the fourth highest in the country. But for men – $61,226 the third highest.

Although income for women was among the top ten in the country, Massachusetts’ earnings among men were even higher. The difference in those full-time, year-round incomes comes to $13,924, and was higher in the Boston metro area – more than $15,000.

On average, Massachusetts workers earned a median of $30,463 in 2011, more than all but three states.

Where the Gap Comes From

According to the site’s data, nearly 70 percent of all managers of corporate enterprises in Massachusetts were women, but women in top positions earned an average of $46,635 – less than half what men earned in those positions. Males in those positions made an average of $108,262.

Massachusetts had one of the largest proportions of its working population employed in education. In that industry, median earning among men exceeded those of women by more than $6,000.

Combatting Inequality in Central Mass

One organization is doing its best locally to fight this ongoing struggle for equal pay. The Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) is focused on educating and empowering women. They offer classes to teach female entrepreneurs and business owners to start and grow their own business.

Their programs and webinars are designed to give women a competitive edge. They also have tips for those transitioning careers and obtaining financing and have helped many local women get their businesses on the right footing.

Women’s Equality in Politics

Equal pay was also a large issue when it came to the recent race for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. Both incumbent Scott Brown and challenger – and victor – Elizabeth Warren put time and effort into crafting campaign messages specifically targeted to female voters.

Both the Warren and Brown campaigns kicked off their female-focused drives in Worcester.

In 2012, the female vote was heavily battled for, and Clark Professor of Politics Srini Sitaraman said that the GOP has several options to strengthen their resolve.

"One, they have to make sure they don't scare the female demographic away," he said, citing Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock for their comments against women's right. But he did not leave Senator Brown out, reminding us of his attacks on Warren over her heritage and referred to as somewhat condescendingly as "Professor Warren" throughout the campaign.

"This I believe backfired on Mr. Brown badly. The issue of women's rights is at the center of the political debate, especially the right to choose," Sitaraman said. "At the more political level, the GOP cannot solve their 'women problem' by some window dressing appointment or through some token policies. They have to recognize the complex demographics of modern America and recognize that they have to develop highly evolved policies that are acceptable to a demographically diverse country."

This issue also includes the equal pay. He added, "On the equal pay and economic issue, they have to come around to accepting that equality cannot be a mere slogan, but it has to be demonstrated through intelligent and coherent policies. They have to realize that women want the same thing that men do—jobs and well paying jobs—and they want access to the same set of opportunities."

Between Rich and Poor

The Bay State also made 247WallStreet.com’s list of the states with the widest gaps between the rich and poor, coming it at number seven.

The state’s ranking was determined by the median household income in 2011 – $62,859, which was the fifth highest in the country. In Mass, 9.9% of households that year were earning more than $200,000, the fourth highest of any state. At the same time, 11.6% of the population was living below poverty line.

To mine these numbers, the Gini coefficient – a ratio between zero and one that represents perfect equality at zero and significant wealth concentration and extreme poverty was 0.4771, compared to a .0476 national average – about ten times as large.

Massachusetts is widely considered one of the wealthiest states in the country, still, in recent years income in Massachusetts has become less equally distributed and the state’s Gini coefficient rose from 0.467 in 2007 to 0.477 last year.

While the percentage of households earning large amounts did not change significantly during that time, median income has fallen by nearly $5,000, from $67,514 in 2007.

So what led to this inequality? The reasons some states have more income inequality than others varied between states, but 247WallStreet said that the industrial makeup of these states is highly significant. States with a disproportionate representation of industries with the potential for extremely high-income positions are more likely to have higher income inequality than those with more diverse industries. 

 

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