Oregon Women Still Suffer from a Pay Gap

News Release
April 11, 2016 Download PDF

For every dollar that an Oregon man earns, an Oregon woman usually earns just 82 cents, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy. The non-profit research institute released a study today showing that the gender pay gap is most severe for women of color, and it exists regardless of education levels.

“Oregon women deserve equal pay for equal work, but they are not getting it,” said Tyler Mac Innis, an analyst with the Center. “The well-being of families and simple fairness call out for lawmakers to address pay inequality.”

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Oregon Women Still Suffer from a Pay Gap

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Women Still Paid Less Than Men: Oregon’s Gender Pay Gap, April 11, 2016

In part, the gender pay gap reflects the reality that women still do most of the work of raising children, caring for elderly parents and tending to sick family members. Mac Innis said that this makes it harder for women — especially low-income women — to enter and stay in the labor force, which can result in lower seniority and work experience.

Another factor contributing to the gender pay gap is that men dominate most of the highest paying lines of work, the Center reported. And while women are more likely to hold positions in Oregon’s two highest-paying occupations — health diagnosing and treating and legal occupations — those women face the most severe earnings gaps in the Oregon labor market.

And gender discrimination is still at play. “Some of the gender pay gap cannot be explained by anything other than employers paying women less because they are women,” Mac Innis said.

The Center called on lawmakers to “level the playing field” by investing in affordable, quality child care; requiring paid family leave for all workers; strengthening fair pay standards; and ensuring that workers can count on predictable work schedules.

“Earning less for equal work is not only wrong, it is standing in the way of financial stability and success for too many women, especially women of color and all mothers who experience the widest pay gaps,” said Andrea Paluso, executive director of Family Forward Oregon. “The good news is that we can move forward with policies like paid family and medical leave and childcare affordability to help narrow the pay gap. It's past time.”

The Oregon Center for Public Policy (www.ocpp.org) is a non-partisan, non-profit institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.