DETROIT (WWJ) – According to a new study, the average Michigan woman earns over $13,000 less than a man.

The study was conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families, in conjunction with the American Association of University Women.

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Research found on average, full-time working women in Michigan are paid $13,524 less than their male counterparts, and the gap costs Michigan’s families a total of more than $16.7 billion annually.

With 62 percent of Michigan women now bringing in more than a quarter of their families’ income and women heading more than 478,000 households, unequal wages are harming both families and the state economy.

What can women do about it?  The group’s CEO Portia Wu said it is difficult for women to combat by themselves.

“You do have to be careful about discussing pay in the workplace,” Wu said. “Unfortunately, it is perfectly legal in most of this country for employers to retaliate against women or men who talk about pay. So you can be fired for talking about pay.”

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To put the pay difference to scale, women earn on average 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

According to Wu, there are a variety of reasons why women earn less.

“Some women are teachers and some men are rocket scientists. But even when you look at woman and men working in similar jobs, for example women and men working in the same industry, hospitality, computer science, whatever it is, women are consistently earning less than men,” Wu said.

According to the report, if the gap between men’s and women’s wages were eliminated, each full-time working woman in Michigan could afford mortgage and utility bills for 10 more months, rent for 19 more months, or 5 more years of family health insurance premiums.

Necessities like these would be particularly important for the 33 percent of women-headed households in Michigan that are currently living below the poverty line.

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The wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. At that pace, working women won’t come close to being paid the same amount as men until 2058.