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Unequal Pay = Unequal Pensions

Today, April 28, is Equal Pay Day, in recognition of the fact that on average women earn less than men. For women, as former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder once noted, this discrimination throughout their lives "strikes its cruelest blow at the end."

The Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act of 2009 will not only help close the wage gap for women who have experienced pay discrimination in the workplace, but it will also help close the pension gap.

During their lives women are hit with a double whammy. First they encounter the wage gap. According to the National Women's Law Center, a woman working full-time today will earn 78¢ for every dollar earned by a man. This wage gap will result in a substantial earnings difference between men and women over the course of their professional careers.

When they retire, women are hit with a consequence of the wage gap - the grim reality of the pension gap. After a lifetime of earning less than men, women retire only to discover that their pensions and 401(k) balances are much smaller than those of their male counterparts - in part because of a lifetime of lower wages. 

Also, long-standing inequities in the laws, women's work patterns and longer life expectancy contribute to lower retirement income for women. The Pension Rights Center's Women's Pension Project is working with the National Women's Law Center and other women's and retiree groups to eliminate these inequities.

This blog entry was written as part of the National Women's Law Center's Blog for Equal Pay Day. For additional information and links to other blog entries on the topic of equal pay, visit Womenstake, the NWLC blog.

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