The promise of America from one generation to the next is a simple one: After a lifetime of hard and rewarding work, Americans can expect to enjoy a secure retirement.
But for a growing number of us, especially women, making good on that promise has become nearly impossible.
As we mark Equal Pay Day on April 14, it’s important to recognize that gender discrimination in pay isn’t just a workplace issue. When women make only 78 cents to every dollar men earn, it has a lasting impact over a woman’s lifetime. It’s easy to see why women don’t have the same kinds of savings to retire on. In fact, women are almost twice as likely as men to retire into poverty.
Americans have made it clear that economic issues affecting women are among their top concerns — and we’re starting to have a real nationwide conversation about these issues. Now we need to make sure that conversation follows women out of the workplace and into retirement, when many Americans are financially vulnerable.
Elected officials across the country need to bring discussion of retirement security to the forefront, and make sure that women are front and center in it.
A December report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that the current median in a 401(k) savings account is just north of $18,000. And the median retirement income for women in 2010 was just 59% that of men, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Women in the public sector fare slightly better. In states that offer defined benefit pension plans, women who retire from public service live off a modest but stable $18,000 a year on average.
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