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Utah ties for last in fair gender pay scale, according to recent report

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report places Utah last of the fifty states when it comes to fair pay between genders. The report authors are urging the state to catch up.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) took at look at both men and women’s median wage, counting only full-time year-round workers. Utah is at the very bottom of the list, with New York and California at the top.

“Utah is tied with Louisiana for the largest pay gap in the nation,” said Kate Neilson, the State Policy Manager for the AAUW. “It’s really important that all legislators who are engaged in this pass bills and ordinances at different levels.”

In Utah the average woman only made seventy cents for every dollar a man made. Neilson said the disparity continues to exist partly because employees aren’t able to discuss their wages. She said a good first step for any city or state is too provide protections for employees to openly compare their compensation.

“Sunlight really is the best disinfectant,” Neilson said. “We need to know where the problems are in order to fix them.”

She also suggested legislation to ban employers from requesting previous wages on an application so that women aren’t stuck in a cycle of bad pay, and education so that both employees and employers know their rights.

This report comes a month after Salt Lake City Mayor, Jackie Biskupski, signed a policy to ensure the city offices can’t hire or promote based on gender, can’t ask prospective employees about their previous pay and requires regular audits of the pay scale within the office.

During the announcement she cited a report that showed women in the Salt Lake City government are only paid 93 percent of what male employees are paid doing the same job.

“This is much better than the state average of 70 percent,” Biskupski said at the time, “but we must and we can gain equity in pay for women.”

“At the end of the day this isn’t just an issue for women, it’s an issue for families and economy,” Neilson added today, “It’s absolutely essential we tackle this problem.”