A new study says Missouri is one of the worst in the nation when it comes to equal pay between men and women.
When President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law three years ago, many believed it would level the playing field for equal pay between men and women. But in Missouri, that hasn't been the case.
"In 2011 in Missouri, women's salaries averaged $628 and men's salaries averaged $841 over the week. So women on average made 74 percent on what men made," said Jacqueline Michael-Midkiff, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The ratio ties Missouri with West Virginia for the fifth lowest ratio of women's to men's earnings domestically.
Missouri once peaked around 80 percent toward the end of the 1990s and then dropped to around 77 percent in 2003, where it has stayed up until last year. The national ratio is around 82 percent.
"Nationally, the trend is definitely up so we are against that trend," Midkiff said.
But University of Missouri-Kansas City Deputy Chancellor of Diversity Karen Dace doesn't believe this is deliberate, just an oversight.
"We have to pay very close attention to salaries and, every once and awhile, check and make sure everybody's lined up. It could be we're not doing as much of that in Missouri as other folks are," she said.
Dace said the income disparity hurts women in the short term because they struggle to provide for their families, and it raises questions of how they'll provide for themselves in their golden years.
"Will you be able to retire? Will you be able to live on the pension that's based on your income over the years?" she said.
There are some jobs where women earn as much or more than men – including respiratory therapists, computer support specialists, research analysts and scientists.
Kansas' ratio for women's pay was 79 percent. Men made about $811 a week and women made $640.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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