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On Equal Pay Day, a Look at How EITCs Help Women in Every State

April 10, 2018 at 10:15 AM

Today is Equal Pay Day, when we recognize the persistent gap in earnings between women and men. It’s also an opportunity to think about things that states can do — such as adopting or increasing state earned income tax credits (EITCs), raising minimum wages, and investing in child care and paid leave — to buoy low-paid women who support themselves and their families.

Looking at full-time, year-round workers in 2016, women earned just 80 cents on every dollar earned by men. This disparity is even more pronounced for women of color — for example, black and Latino women earned 63 and 54 cents on every dollar that white, non-Hispanic men earned for full-time, year-round work.

The pay gap persists across education levels, occupations, and states, and has many causes. As the Institute for Women’s Policy Research notes:

Women’s lower earnings are due to a number of factors, including lower earnings in occupations done mainly by women; lack of paid family leave and subsidized child care; and discrimination in compensation, recruitment, and hiring. Measures to improve the quality of jobs held mainly by women, tackle occupational segregation, enforce equal pay and employment opportunities, and improve work family benefits for all workers, will help the incomes of women and their families grow and strengthen the economy.

In addition to investing more in child care and paid leave and raising state minimum wages, states can adopt or increase EITCs, an important tool supporting women in lower-paid occupations. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted a state EITC, which, like the federal credit, boosts income and helps workers — especially women — make ends meet.

In every state, the majority of households benefitting from EITCs (state and federal) have a working woman (see table). And these credits have a wide range of benefits for women, research finds, like helping single moms move into the labor force and increasing women’s Social Security benefits in retirement by boosting their employment and earnings in their working-age years.

TABLE 1
State Estimated Number of Working Women Who Receive Federal EITC Share of EITC Households with a Working Woman*** State Has EITC
       
United States 17,500,000 62%  
       
Alabama 334,000 64% n
Alaska 28,000 58% n
Arizona 363,000 60% n
Arkansas 191,000 62% n
California 1,907,000 58% y**
Colorado 229,000 61% y
Connecticut 149,000 64% y
Delaware 49,000 64% y*
District of Columbia 35,000 62% y
Florida 1,376,000 62% n
Georgia 734,000 65% n
Hawaii 65,000 58% y*
Idaho 85,000 61% n
Illinois 665,000 64% y
Indiana 360,000 64% y
Iowa 140,000 65% y
Kansas 137,000 63% y
Kentucky 258,000 63% n
Louisiana 352,000 66% y
Maine 65,000 61% y
Maryland 281,000 64% y
Massachusetts 271,000 64% y
Michigan 518,000 63% y
Minnesota 221,000 63% y
Mississippi 261,000 66% n
Missouri 335,000 64% n
Montana 49,000 60% y
Nebraska 85,000 62% y
Nevada 156,000 59% n
New Hampshire 48,000 61% n
New Jersey 407,000 64% y
New Mexico 133,000 60% y
New York 1,134,000 62% y
North Carolina 624,000 64% n
North Dakota 28,000 62% n
Ohio 623,000 64% y*
Oklahoma 215,000 61% y*
Oregon 177,000 60% y
Pennsylvania 606,000 63% n
Rhode Island 55,000 64% y
South Carolina 327,000 64% y*
South Dakota 40,000 63% n
Tennessee 419,000 63% n
Texas 1,733,000 63% n
Utah 119,000 59% n
Vermont 29,000 63% y
Virginia 412,000 64% y*
Washington 282,000 61% y**
West Virginia 96,000 60% n
Wisconsin 252,000 64% y
Wyoming 25,000 65% n

* State has an EITC that is not refundable.

** California's refundable state EITC goes to just a portion of federal participants. Washington State has a credit in statute that has not yet been implemented.

*** In a small number of cases in which a same-sex couple has two working women spouses, both are counted.


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