Equal pay disparities between genders persist in NY, governor says

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

A report provided by the New York State Department of Labor said women in the state earned 88.2 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts in 2021.

The pay gap in New York is much smaller when compared to the national average of 81.5 cents.

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul marked the 102nd anniversary of women’s constitutional right to vote by directing the labor department to continue its 2018 research examining the gender wage gap.

Between 2019 and 2021, the pay gap narrowed despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic recession caused by the pandemic had a major effect on women in the labor force. The report said that women’s contributions to the labor force slightly decreased from 59.3% to 58.9% between the same time frame.

The labor research said that the unemployment rate for women doubled, rising from 4.2% to 8.2% between 2019 and 2021.

This translated to unemployment among women increasing to more than 405,000 in 2021, up from 207,000 in 2019.

Hochul acknowledged the barriers that women face in many aspects of the workplace.

“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,” Hochul said in a statement. “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.”

To combat the pay gap, the labor department will launch several initiatives. These actions include watching the state’s gender wage gap, posting annual updates regarding changes in the gap on the department’s Gender Pay Gap online hub and educating employers about new pay transparency laws, the Staten Island Advance reported.

The release of the labor department’s report coincided with “Equal Pay Day,” a day centered on raising awareness of the gender pay gap and its effects on different communities.

Workers from across different industries, from elected officials to women’s rights and labor advocates, took the day to rally in lower Manhattan on March 14. The rally marked the 17th “Equal Pay Day” to occur in the city.

New York City officials in attendance included City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council Member Amanda Farias, who is also the co-chair of the women’s caucus. Both announced a stance in solidarity with the rallygoers.

“New York City would not be the city it is without the care and labor women have and continue to provide,” Farias said. “So it is critical that women legislators like myself stand together with our partners in labor and advocacy to fight against this narrative that women’s work is not worth equal pay.”

The City Council passed a package of bills addressing pay equity, including one that strengthens a bill from 2019 known as the “Pay Equity Law.” The new bill would require the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services to collect and supply employment and pay data to the council every year.

Job vacancies also played a role in the economic disparities among women in New York. Elected officials emphasized the city’s need to close the gap by filling job vacancies created by the pandemic.

On March 6, the Office of the New York City Comptroller released a report highlighting the pay gap issue. The Department of Social Services has a 20% vacancy rate and is only meeting 42% of its goals, according to the report.

Hochul announced her commitment to continue ending the economic inequalities between men and women.

“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,” the governor said.