Much mockery was made of Miss Utah on Monday after she gave a halting answer to a complicated question about the gender wage gap. On Tuesday, Miss Utah, otherwise known as Melissa Powell, was given a chance to answer the question without being put on the spot in an appearance on the Today Show:
Her answer was completely coherent and accurate:
So this is not okay. It needs to be equal pay for equal work. And it’s hard enough already to earn a living and it shouldn’t be harder just because you’re a woman.
Powell is absolutely right to point out that women don’t earn equal pay for equal work. On average they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes and among the 600 occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they make less than men in all but seven. Factors such as what industry or job women choose, whether they take time off or go part-time to have children, their race, and their marital status still can’t explain the gap. Even after stripping those factors away, they make 80 percent of men’s income.
It is in fact tough to make a living, as wages for the average worker have been on a downward trajectory. Wages as a percent of overall economic output fell to an all-time low in December and have continued falling since. Yet at the same time, corporate profits have soared, growing by about 20 percent a year since the end of 2008 and reaching record highs. This means the growing share of families that rely on women’s income face a double whammy.
The question remains as to why a women who earns her money as a singer and actress is also expected to be an expert on economic policy, but when given the time to adequately prepare she was able to discuss the issue as well as anyone else.