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Report finds Idaho has bigger wage gaps for women, minorities than nation

A new report on pay disparities finds that women and minorities in Idaho who work full-time are far less likely to earn a living wage than the population as a whole, and though such disparities also show up nationwide, they’re more pronounced in Idaho. The report “Equity in the Balance,” which examined pay disparities in 10 states including Idaho, found that for single adults in Idaho working full-time, just 51 percent make a living wage, which for Idaho was calculated at $14.57 an hour, enough to cover basics including food, housing, transportation and child care. For women, that percentage fell to 43 percent; for Latinos, 31 percent; for people of color, 39 percent; and for Native Americans, 37 percent. Even bigger disparities were found for households with children.

Nationally, the study estimated that 61 percent of all workers earn a living wage, with the number falling to 57 percent for women, 42 percent for Latinos, 52 percent for people of color and 50 percent for Native Americans.

“It’s more pronounced in Idaho,” said Ben Henry, a senior policy associate with Seattle-based Alliance for a Just Society, the lead author of the report, which also was produced in collaboration with the Idaho Community Action Network. “Women and people of color just simply are not making ends meet," he said. "It’s concerning and sobering to say the least.”

The full report is online here. The sponsors say raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid and other steps could ease the burden for low-wage workers in Idaho. Idaho currently ties its minimum wage to the federal minimum wage, so it’s $7.25 an hour, a rate that hasn’t changed in five years. Last year, legislation was introduced to phase in an increase in Idaho’s minimum wage to $9.75 an hour, but the bill, sponsored by three Democratic state senators, never got a hearing.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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