• Vermont women earn more than national average
    February 19,2013

    By Katie Johnston
    The Associated Press

    Women's education and salaries have increased over the years, increasing their share of household income, but women on average still earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

    In Massachusetts, where more people have bachelor's degrees than in any other state, the wage gap between men and women is the 13th largest in the nation.

    Women in Massachusetts earn 77 cents for ever dollar a man earns, the same as the national average, according to the American Association of University Women, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

    In Vermont, by comparison, women earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by men.

    Counterintuitively, the wage gap expands as women move up the corporate ladder because there are fewer rules about compensation in upper management, said Victoria Budson, executive director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University's Kennedy School.

    “It's incredibly important for people to understand that women's wages are key definers of a family's economic life,” she said. “For the health of families, communities, and the state, it is imperative that women are paid fairly for their labor.”

    In households in which men don't have a college degree, women's financial contributions play an even bigger role. Men with lower levels of education were hit hardest by job losses during the recession, and wives' share of family earnings income surpassed husbands in these households, according to the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire study. Women married to men with a high school diploma or less provided 51 percent of the household income in 2011, a jump of 4 percentage points from 2009.

    More educated men, on the other hand, tend to marry educated women, and these couples' earnings took less of a beating during the downturn, further widening gap between the highest and lowest incomes, said Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies.

    “At the bottom, women's share is going up largely because men's earning are going down,” he said. “At the top, wives are both working more and earning more relative to their husbands, but their husbands' earnings are not declining.”

    Caitlin LoCascio-King, a lawyer in Auburn, Maine, quit her job in 2011 after she had a baby and started a part-time solo practice.

    But she ramped up her hours last year when her family's health care costs increased and her husband's pay raises were not keeping up with the cost of living.

    “My plan was just to bring in a little money to help my family,” said LoCascio-King, 28, who has a 2-year-old and a 9-month-old and trades off child care duties with her husband, who works nights. “It has grown much bigger than that in large part because of the economy.”

    LoCascio-King estimates she will be the main breadwinner this year, and that is just fine with her husband, a police officer in Portland: “My husband is thrilled with my new nickname, Sugar Mama.”

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