Unmarried women can have an enormous influence on American politics, election outcomes and policy debates—when they register, turn out and act on their values.

Unmarried Women and the Wage Gap

In January 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as a step toward closing the pay gap between men and women. Progress has been made since then, but women still only make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, and the disparity is even greater for unmarried women, who earned just 60 cents compared to every dollar a man makes.

One out of every two women in the United States is unmarried – divorced, separated, widowed or never been married – and their numbers are growing rapidly. This November, for the first time in our history there will be more unmarried women eligible to vote than married women.

But unmarried women are living in a very different, harsher economic reality than married women:

  • Unmarried women are twice as likely as married women to be unemployed. (7.3% unmarried women; 3.1% married women)
  • Unmarried women are four times as likely as married women to be living in poverty. (21.7% unmarried women; 5.6% married women)
  • Unmarried women are more than three times more likely than married women to earn the minimum wage (45.4% unmarried women; 13.5% married women) or below minimum wage (49.7% unmarried women; 15.9% unmarried women)

But unmarried women of color are the ones who suffer the most from the wage gap: For every $1 the average man makes, an unmarried African-American woman makes 52¢, an unmarried Latina makes 48¢, and an unmarried Native American woman makes only 47¢. Those numbers look even worse when we consider how long the average woman in each of those groups would have to work just to make the same amount of money the average man made in 2015:


Clearly, for unmarried women, “equal pay can’t wait.” But at the current rate, the pay gap won’t be eliminated for more than 100 years. That’s why we’ve been proud to join a national coalition of organizations and lawmakers that is coordinating ongoing efforts to introduce federal and state legislation to ensure women are paid equally for doing the same work as men.


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