A new report was released Tuesday from the New York State Department of Labor on the State’s gender wage gap. The report revisited the findings from DOL’s 2018 study on the issue, while also examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the key factors that traditionally are associated with the gender pay gap and makes several policy recommendations aimed at addressing the pervasive issue. The announcement aligns with Equal Pay Day, March 14, which denotes how far into the year women must work to be paid what men were paid the previous year.
“This report offers an important look into New York’s ongoing fight for equal pay and provides a road map for helping our state close the gender wage gap once and for all,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “Far too many women in the workforce are still being denied equal pay for equal work, and as New York’s first woman governor, I am determined to make things right. My administration is fully committed to closing the gender wage gap, especially for the single mothers and women of color who are disproportionately affected, because better working conditions for women means a stronger, fairer economy for all.”
Findings from the new report indicate that, while New York’s gender wage gap is the second smallest in the United States, women in New York earned 88 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2021. Over a 40-year career, this gap would cost a woman $350,360 in diminished lifetime earnings. The gap is even wider for women of color. Compared to white, non-Hispanic men, Black or African American women are paid about 68 cents on the dollar while Hispanic and Latina women are paid only 63 cents on the dollar.
The report also finds that the pivot to remote learning and pandemic-driven closures of childcare facilities elevated the severe impact of childcare access, which has long been a major problem for working women, on the gender wage gap. With mothers bearing the brunt of care responsibilities, labor force participation for women in New York dropped from 59.3 percent to 58.9 percent from 2019 to 2021, while the unemployment rate nearly doubled from 4.2 percent to 8.2 percent. In 2021, over 405,000 women were unemployed, a significant increase from 207,000 in 2019. The report notes that even a temporary exit from the workforce can have significant long-term financial implications.
Remote work helped some women and families juggle childcare, but not all. Almost two-thirds of the state’s frontline essential workforce was made up of women – primarily women of color, for whom remote work was not an option.
The report includes several policy recommendations to build upon the State’s push toward greater pay equity. Some of these key recommendations include:
- Increasing pay for low-wage workers, including through proposals like indexing New York’s minimum wage to inflation.
- Expanding paid parental leave to union-represented state workforce
- Raising awareness about the New York State Equal Rights Amendment, which would add new anti-discrimination protections to the New York State Constitution;
- Improving statewide data collection to better capture employment trends and increase transparency; and
- Modernizing the Department of Civil Service testing model by offering all state exams online and on-demand.
The Department of Labor will also be undertaking several initiatives to support the goal of pay equity:
- Monitoring the state’s gender wage gap and posting annual updates on the Department’s newly created Gender Pay Gap online hub;
- Educating employers about new pay transparency laws and ensuring adequate enforcement;
- Raising awareness about publicly available data on job titles and pay;
- Developing and launching a statewide paternity leave awareness campaign;
- Prioritizing connecting women to job training opportunities in the green economy as part of the proposed Office of Just Energy Transition; and
- Developing additional resources for businesses.