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Local News

April 8, 2013

Pay gap narrow, not gone, in Oneonta

City near top in report on men's, women's earnings

(Continued)

NCPE’s purpose is to close the wage gap between women, as well as people of color, and men. In 1963, when the federal Equal Pay Act was signed, women made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men, based on based on census data of median wages of full-time, year-round workers. By 2009, women earned 77 cents to men’s dollar, a narrowing of the wage gap by less than half a cent a year, the NCPE website said. 

The disparity costs the average American woman and her family an estimated $700,000 to $2 million, impacting Social Security benefits and pensions, the site said.

Christian Harris, a regional labor market analyst with the state Department of Labor in Binghamton, said the No. 13 ranking for Oneonta is positive news because it reflects better-paid positions with upward mobility. But Harris said he reviewed some of the apparent factors behind the NerdWallet study that made him a bit cautious about the population characteristics. 

“We’ve got to take that with a grain of salt,’’ Harris said. 

The NerdWallet study appears to reflect about 2,740 workers in the city of Oneonta in the fields of education, health care and social services who are employed full-time, year-round, he said, with about 60 percent of the group comprised of women.

About 12,300 people are employed in the town and city of Oneonta, he said, and seasonal workers, among other groups, weren’t represented in the study. 

Elizabeth Seale, assistant professor of sociology at the State University College at Oneonta, said she considered various sociological research findings about the wage gap to shed light onto Oneonta’s No. 13 ranking. 

“Most likely it is a product of higher rates of unionization, but lower overall wages than many other cities in the Northeast,’’ Seale wrote in an email. “That is important because the less everyone is paid, the more limited are possible gaps.’’

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