For the first time in history, nearly half of the women in New York state are the main breadwinners in their families, according to a new study released today.
But just because women might be bringing home the bacon, their paychecks still do not equal those of their male counterparts. Working women earn about $142 less than men each week, according to a report released by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office.
Nearly 42 percent of New York mothers are the primary source of household income for their families, according to the report. In New York City, that means more than 530,000 households depend on the mother’s earnings.
Economists say the recession played a large role in dampening men’s strength in the workforce.
“The recession led to higher job losses among men, which meant that in a greater number of families, the husband was unemployed while the wife supported the family,” according to the report.
One 29-year-old mother of one in Middle Village, Queens told Metro that her family is forced to move out of New York City after her husband could not find a job.
When he had a part-time job, as well as veteran’s benefits from the state, he made just slightly more than she does. But once he lost the job, she became the primary earner.
But it’s still not enough.
“We don’t make ends meet,” she said. “We go into debt each month.”
The family is moving to Utah next week.
“We looked for other apartments. But who wants to be in in a one-bedroom with a 3-year-old?” she said. “It wasn’t really worth it to stay.
Sen. Gillibrand is pushing for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is expected on the Senate floor for a vote in the next few weeks.
On average, women in New York make about 14.6 percent less than men.
“Shortchanging women doesn’t just rob them of a fair paycheck,” Gillibrand said. “It makes families less secure.”
The Paycheck Fairness Act would hold employers accountable and make it easier for workers to pursue back pay.
These days, it’s not uncommon to find women making more than men. Manhattan marriage therapist Rachel Sussman said that money issues can affect relationships, but the key is communication.
No longer, she said, does the man have to be the main breadwinner and the woman stays home to take care of the kids.
Her clients include women who work in finance, law or advertising, who rake in more than $200,000 a year. Sometimes she said, her female clients admit they have difficulty dating someone who makes less than they do.
“Maybe you’re dating someone who does research, or who is an artist, or someone who lost their job,” she said. But she encourages women not to limit themselves by a potential partner’s salary.
Men face a different problem entirely, she said. “It’s a very different conversation if you started off as the breadwinner and you’ve lost your job. That’s a huge adjustment," she said.
She added, “I think that roles are changing, and some people are very comfortable with it, and other people are like, ‘This isn’t quite what I imagined.’”