Persistent earnings inequality for working women translates into lower pay, less family income, and more poverty in families with a working woman, which is of no small consequence to working families. About 71 percent of all mothers in the United States work for pay. Of these, about two-thirds (68 percent) are married and typically have access to men’s incomes, but married women’s earnings are nevertheless crucial to family support. One-third (32 percent) are single mothers and often the sole support of their families. And many without children, both single and married, work to support themselves and other family members.
This briefing paper summarizes analyses of the 2010-2012 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic supplement and uses statistical controls for labor supply, human capital, and labor market characteristics to estimate: 1) how much women’s earnings and family incomes would rise with equal pay; 2) how much women and their families lose because women earn less than similarly qualified men; and 3) how much the economy as a whole suffers from inequality in pay between women and men.