Contact: Erin Weber | | (646) 719-7021

Washington, D.C. – A new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) on the Economic Impact of Equal Pay finds that if women were paid the same as equally qualified men, poverty for working women would be reduced by more than 40 percent. Closing the gender wage gap would increase working women’s annual average earnings from $41,402 to $48,326, adding $541 billion in wage and salary income to the U.S. economy (2.8 percent of 2019 GDP).

“Working women were already experiencing increasing economic instability before the COVID-19 pandemic and were hit harder than men by the economic fallout,” said, C. Nicole Mason, the president and CEO of IWPR. “Without meaningful policy change, women will not be paid fairly, —with far-reaching consequences that will persist long after the pandemic subsides,” she added. The data does not take into account the impact the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic “she-cession” has had on working women. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated pre-existing levels of economic inequality for women—with Black and Latina women bearing the brunt of the economic recession.

The new research, from IWPR’s Elyse Shaw and Halie Mariano, finds that achieving equal pay for all working women would have far-reaching impact on women and families across the United States. “Closing the gender wage gap would lower women’s poverty rates in every state and help women and families achieve greater economic security,” said Elyse Shaw. Across the country, if working women aged 18 and older were paid the same as comparable men the poverty rate among working women would decrease from 9.5 percent to 5.5 percent. “For every state, and for the entire nation, equal pay could provide a significant boost to the economy, helping families and communities across the United States,” she added.

  • New Jersey would see the greatest impact on poverty reduction, with equal pay cutting poverty by almost half (48.4 percent) among working women. Montana (45.9 percent), Wyoming (45.5 percent), Louisiana (44.5 percent), and Hawaii (44.0 percent) would also see the largest impacts of equal pay on reducing poverty.
  • States with higher-than-average poverty rates would also see significant poverty reductions among working women. New Mexico’s poverty rate among working women would decline to 8.4 percent from a national high of 13.9 percent, Mississippi’s would decrease to 8 percent from 13.6 percent, and Louisiana’s would decrease to 7.5 percent from 13.4 percent.

The new report includes policy solutions including: Build and invest in the care economy, increase the minimum wage, increase education, training, and access to well-paid jobs: strengthen efforts to ensure equity in hiring and pay.