Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Income Inequality between Men and women

(CNN) -- The earnings gap between men and women has narrowed, but a new White House report shows that on average women still only make about 75% as much as their male counterparts.

The report released Tuesday shows that women have not only caught up with men in college attendance but in fact have surpassed them, yet that gain hasn't translated into the pocketbook. Statistics also show women are more likely than men to live in poverty.

This is the first comprehensive look at women's status in American society in more than 50 years, according to the Obama administration. Valerie Jarrett, White House counselor and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, calls the report "a guidepost to help us move forward," and also says the data will affect future policy decisions.

"I think it will inform a wide variety of different policy in programs that the federal government will either initiate or continue but it will be evidence-based," Jarrett said during a conference call Tuesday with reporters. "(We'll) look at those programs and how they fit together to improve the quality of lives of women as a whole rather than looking at it in a silo," she said.

Women's incomes now account for about one-third of their family's total take-home pay. Jarrett said that fact highlights that this is not simply a women's study but rather one showing how a woman's life affects society as a whole.

"(We) realize we have got to encourage women to go into higher paying fields or be educated in a way that's going to lead to higher paying jobs," she said. "You really have to look at the whole story of a woman's life and I think this report gives us comprehensive framework to do that. "

As women contribute more to the family budget, some are out-earning their husbands. The study shows 18% of working women earned more than their spouses. There have also been changes in family life. Fewer women are married. In 2009, 62% of women were married. That's down from 72% in 1970. In addition, in 2009, 15% of women had never been married.

The report also shows that today's woman is having fewer children than in the past and she is having her first baby at an older age. Today 22% of women are having their first child in their 30s compared to only 4% of women in the 1970s. More women in their 40s are first-time mothers than ever before.

The report also says that fewer women are targets of violent crime, including murder. But still women are more likely to be victims of some crimes including stalking and domestic violence.

The report analyzes women's role in families and income, education, employment, and crime and violence.

The Office of Management and Budget and Department of Commerce drew together data from more than a dozen agencies across the federal government to put together the report. The study was launched to support he White House Council on Women and Girls that was created by President Barack Obama two years ago.

The White House is releasing the report in connection with March being Women's History month.

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