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As women approach retirement, the 77 cent wage gap gets scarier

Change is slow, says the Institute for Women's Policy Research, especially when it comes to closing the gender wage gap. Considering how much progress the country has made since the Equal Pay Act was passed 50 years ago, the IWPR figures we will finally reach our goal -- women and men will actually earn equal pay (on average) for equal work -- in 2058. It will have taken 100 years of baby steps to close the 40 cent gap identified in 1963's "American Women: Report of the President's Commission on the Status of Women."

The most recent estimates put women's wages, nationwide, at 77 cents on the dollar. State by state, California is doing pretty well at 84 cents. California ranked sixth (in a tie with Florida) among all states and the District of Columbia, which ranked first. Perhaps we can reach equity a little sooner than 2058.

Until then, of course, women have to learn to cope with the disparity, at times to make up the difference in other ways. Working more hours, working more than one job, working a few more years before retirement -- the alternatives aren't exactly appealing. The White House states the dilemma eloquently:

On average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. This significant gap is more than a statistic -- it has real life consequences. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families, and over a lifetime of work, far less savings for retirement.

If change is slow, this will be a long road for women. And while there is some comfort in numbers, we know intuitively that each woman's journey is unique, and that makes each woman's approach to our areas of focus, retirement and estate planning, unique.

We are waxing a bit philosophical here, but we want to make a point -- and, as Ellen Degeneres would say, we do have one. We'll explain in our next post.

Sources: 

USA Today, "Women can't escape gender gap even in retirement," Claire Davidson, June 21, 2014

Institute for Women's Policy Research, "Pay Equity & Discrimination," accessed online July 11, 2014

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