Today, the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF) released an updated state-by-state study of the gender pay gap across the United States. The study found that Colorado women receive 84 cents for every dollar paid to a man, with Asian, black, and Hispanic women earning even less. The study purposely coincides with Equal Pay Day, the day that women would have earned the same amount as men made by the end of 2017—99 days into 2018.

According to the study, the average working woman in the United States makes $41,554 a year, while a man makes $51,640—earning 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Colorado has the sixth smallest wage gap in the nation, with New York, California, Florida, the District of Columbia and Vermont ahead. Louisiana, Utah and West Virginia have the largest gaps in the nation, with women earning as low as 30 cents for every dollar as a man earns.

“While Colorado has the sixth smallest cents-on-the-dollar wage gap in the nation, the effects are still punishing for women and families in the state. Ask any woman struggling to make ends meet how much an extra $8,058 a year would mean to her and her family,” says Debra L. Ness, president of National Partnership for Women & Families. “If our country is to thrive and we are to address poverty, we simply must ensure that women are paid fairly and have opportunities to advance to higher paying jobs. ”

The study emphasizes the disadvantage the wage gap holds against working women in Colorado who consistently have less money to put toward rent, childcare, and education because of the wage gap. If the gap were eliminated, for example, the extra money earned by the average woman in Colorado would be equivalent to 8.6 months of childcare, 6.9 months of rent, or 0.7 additional years of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, according to the study.

“The gender-based wage gap results in staggering losses that make it harder for women, in Colorado and across the country, to pay for food and shelter, child care, college tuition, birth control and other health care,” Vicki Shabo, NPWF’s vice president for workplace policies and strategies, said in a press release.

The NPWF study claims that poverty and income inequality are results of the wage gap, which directly targets women of color. Black women in Colorado make $21,717 less than white men in the state, while Latinas earn $27,323 less each year. “We have a long way to go to achieve equal pay for all women, especially women of color. One out of every five women in Colorado is Latina, and they still only make 53.5 cents on the dollar compared to the highest earners, white males. This is a missed opportunity for our economy and our entire state,” says Lauren Y. Casteel, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

The NPWF is working to expedite legislation to end pay discrimination, diminish wage disparities, allow for paid sick days, end discrimination against pregnant workers, and increase the minimum wage. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado is committed to helping women achieve a livable wage in Colorado in order to minimize poverty among women and create more strategies to economic prosperity.

“Until every woman is making equal pay for equal work, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado will advocate for legislation that eradicates barriers to equality and create pathways to careers in high-growth fields where men’s and women’s earnings are similar,” Casteel says.

Victoria Carodine
Victoria Carodine
Victoria Carodine is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.