By 2066, my daughter may be preparing for her own retirement. Unless Nebraska addresses our wage gap now, she’ll have to keep working into her sixties to ensure she has equal pay for equal work.
The average woman in Nebraska makes less than 80 cents per dollar compared to men with similar jobs. And it's worse for women of color. African American women earn less than 62 cents per dollar. Latinas 54 cents.
In spite of state and federal laws, Nebraska has an equal pay problem. While the pay gap between men and women is a national concern, we know that over half of the states in our country have found a way to close the gap to be less than the 21.2 cents in Nebraska.
It is time to modernize our equal pay laws to ensure that everyone in the workplace is compensated based on their ability to do the job – not their gender.
Two proposals before the Nebraska Legislature would go a long way in closing the wage gap. Both of these bills simply ensure that the existing framework for equal pay in Nebraska can be enforced effectively.
Many Nebraska employees currently have to fear being fired if they talk to their coworkers about their wages. LB 83, introduced by Sen. Tanya Cook would fix this and ensure that not just women but people of color and other groups are not being paid less for equal work. This transparency has no cost to tax payers and protects employees from fear of punishment.
Nebraska is one of few states where a woman might fall under equal pay laws in one company, but not another just because of the size of the employer. A consistent and uniform application of our equal pay laws is a common sense solution that ensures all women have equal pay protections.
Women in Nebraska are a powerful contribution to our state’s workforce. About 75% of Nebraska mothers are working outside of the home–consistently one of the highest rates in the country.
If we take no action it is projected that a woman in Nebraska would not see the pay gap equalize until 2066.
The time has come to make equal pay for equal work a reality in the great state of Nebraska.