New Reports Show Vermont's Wage Gap Worsening As Women Age

May 4, 2016

New reports on women in the Vermont workforce show a wage and income disparity with their male counterparts that gets worse as women get older.

Meg Smith, director of the Vermont Women’s Fund, one of the groups behind the studies, says the goal of the research was to provide a detailed picture of women and work in Vermont.

“When 43 percent of women working full-time are not meeting their basic needs, that’s a big problem. Women who are single-parent household are nine times more likely to live in poverty,” she said on VPR’s Vermont Edition Wednesday.

Women in Vermont make about 84 percent of what men earn, although the research shows the wage gap between men and women is not as wide in Vermont as it is in the country as a whole. But Cary Brown, the executive director of the Vermont Commission on Women, says the wage gap is particularly problematic when women retire or go on Social Security.

“It’s not just how much money people are making at any moment. But over the course of a lifetime, you’re not putting as much money into Social Security, you’re not putting as much money into unemployment insurance, retirement savings,” Brown said. “And all of those things ... by the end of a lifetime, have a huge impact.”

The research on wage and income issues is part of a multi-year initiative called Change the Story VT. Organizers say the goal is to improve women’s financial security faster – both to help them and to boost the state’s economic future.