Thursday, May 12, 2016

"If women’s wallets could talk" by Betty Yee

Growing up with my four sisters, I saw my parents struggle with their laundry and dry-cleaning
business to provide for us financially. Through their tremendous sacrifice and an ethic of saving money at a young age, regardless of how small the amount, today two of my sisters are pharmacists and two others are health-care executives. My sisters and I are fortunate women who were able to scrape by with scholarships, grants, loans, and work to put ourselves through college. Yet we know many others do not have the ability to attain financial security today because of gender inequalities.

Despite a stubborn pay disparity and an often unbreakable glass ceiling, women are driving the world’s economy. Women control 70 percent of global consumer spending, and 75 percent of women identify themselves as the primary shoppers for their households. A record 40 percent of American households now have women serving as the primary or sole breadwinners. How can women harness this consumer spending power and use it to attain financial security, especially when it is needed most, in retirement?

The majority of American women are facing a retirement security crisis. Women on average save about 7 percent of pay. Of lower-income retirees in California, 70 percent are women. Women age 65 and older living in poverty outnumber men by more than two to one. Adding to the money crunch, women at age 65 are expected to live another 19 years – three years longer than men. Single women face a greater hurdle without the added financial support of a dual-income household to pay living expenses and the cost of raising children. These sobering statistics should come as no surprise because retirement benefits are based on the accumulation of lifetime earnings.

The gender pay gap in California stands at 84 percent. A new report found that rather than the gradual improvement we have seen in the past, the gender pay gap is widening. Another reason for the disparity: more women are employed part-time and work for smaller employers less likely to offer pensions or employer-sponsored retirement plans. Closing the pay gap would not only help fund women’s retirement but would increase pay into Social Security, potentially ensuring everyone’s retirement security in the long run. ...

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