Gender salary gap widens in Colorado as Republicans undercut pay equity commission

January 23, 2015
Graph: Gender pay equality, women's earnings as a percentage of men's

The pay gap between men and women in Colorado has widened since 2003, according to data released by the federal government Friday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' figures on women's earnings comes the same week that state Republicans voted to kill a commission tasked with finding ways to close the divide.

Women in Colorado are earning about 78 cents on every $1 that men made in 2013.  In 2003, women were earning 84 cents for every $1 that men made.

In the decade since then, pay inequity has slowly increased  in Colorado. Meanwhile, the gap is closing for the country as a whole. Nationally, women earned about 82 cents for every $1 men made, up from about 79 cents in 2002.

The data comes after a 5-4 party-line vote in the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee, where Republicans decided to end the work of the state's Pay Equity Commission. The commission went to work in 2010 after years of discussion among lawmakers about ways to close the pay disparity for women and minorities. 

The Pay Equity Commission's charter to meet would expire on July 2015 without support from the Legislature.

ProgressNow Colorado, a group for progressives, condemned the vote.

"Republicans disregarded the opinion of witness after witness, the mountain of studies proving that pay inequity remains a problem, and even the state's own experts to come to this terrible decision," ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Amy Runyon-Harms stated.

The free-market group, Compass Colorado, issued a statement saying that testimony before the vote to end the commission indicated the commission perpetuated a "rampant anti-business sentiment." 

Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, is introducing legislation to save the commission.

“This bill is an effort to maintain the status of the commission and really help it to continue to monitor and address the issue of pay inequity across the state," she said.

The bill has 18 initial co-sponsors -- all women with the state's Democratic women's caucus.

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