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Behind the Numbers: The Wage Gap

Posted by Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Director of Research and Policy Analysis | Posted on: September 14, 2015 at 05:18 pm

On September 16th the Census Bureau will release new national data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the U.S. in 2014. As we get ready to crunch numbers, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at what these numbers tell us—and don’t tell us—about the wage gap.

Women in the U.S. who work full time, year round were typically paid only 78 cents for every dollar their male counterparts were paid in 2013. For women of color, the gaps are even larger. This blog post provides details about the wage gap measure that the Census Bureau and the National Women’s Law Center use, factors contributing to the wage gap, and how to shrink the gap.

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Behind the Numbers: Poverty

On September 16, 2015, the Census Bureau will release new national data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the U.S. in 2014. As we get ready to crunch numbers, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at what these numbers tell us—and don’t tell us—about poverty. We’ll get a somewhat fuller picture because for the first time, on the same date, the Census Bureau will be releasing data on poverty using two different measures: the “official” poverty measure and the “supplemental” poverty measure.” Here are a few FAQs on poverty and the Census Bureau data.

What does the official poverty rate measure?

The official poverty rate measures the percentage of the U.S. population with income below the federal poverty threshold, often referred to as the “poverty line,” for their family size (e.g., $24,008 in 2014 for a family of four with two kids). Income is calculated before taxes and includes only cash income such as earnings, pension/retirement income, Social Security, unemployment benefits, and child support payments.

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Behind the Numbers: Health Insurance

Posted by Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy | Posted on: September 14, 2015 at 11:18 am

On September 16th, the Census Bureau will release new data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the United States in 2014. As a preview to this red-hot data, we outline what we expect to learn about health insurance — including the first year of Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation.

Where does this data come from?

Once a year, the Census Bureau includes additional questions on health coverage and income within their monthly Current Population Survey. This supplement is known as the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The ASEC questions regarding health insurance explore whether each member of the respondent household had insurance coverage throughout the previous calendar year, and if so, what kind of coverage. According to the Census Bureau, the ASEC is the most widely used source of data on health insurance coverage in the U.S.

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Mean Girls' Take on Ridiculous Planned Parenthood Hearing

Posted by Joanne Hernandez, Intern | Posted on: September 14, 2015 at 10:54 am

The House Judiciary Committee just held a hearing attacking Planned Parenthood. The issue at hand? Cutting off federal support for Planned Parenthood and thereby denying health care to women in low-income communities across the country.  

It was the first time I’d been to a congressional hearing and ― although I didn’t know what to expect ― I was excited.

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How My Life Turned Into a Parks & Recreation Episode

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: September 14, 2015 at 10:42 am

Last Tuesday night, I rewatched the Parks and Recreation episode where the main character, Leslie Knope, tries to add fluoride to the city’s water. But her city council nemesis blocks her efforts and instead proposes that a sweet sugary drink (“Drink-ems”) should replace their water supply. Even though Leslie’s plan was supported by the facts (like fluoride is not a threatening chemical and that sugar drinks will harm the city’s population), they didn’t get her anywhere. In the end, she was successful only because she dropped the facts and instead made fluoride into something else that was “cool” (“H2-FLOW”).

It was a hilarious episode. But what was supposed to be just satire turned into real life for me the very next day.

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An Ode to Serena Williams

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: September 11, 2015 at 02:10 pm

When I was a senior in high school, I had pictures of three athletes up in my bedroom: Michael Jordan, Cal Ripken, and Serena Williams. That might not seem like a strange list right now, but sixteen years ago, Serena stood out like a sore thumb. Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken were stars with incredible records under their belts. Serena had only recently broken into the top 10 women tennis players.

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Labor Department Finalizes Rule to End Pay Secrecy

Posted by Rebecca Ojserkis, Legal Intern | Posted on: September 10, 2015 at 02:52 pm

Women pay the same price for a gallon of milk as men. Their rent doesn’t differ based on sex. Neither do their electricity bills. However, employers continue to pay women less than men, even when doing the same job. Though women should not bear the burden of correcting this discrimination, the experiences of Lilly Ledbetter and Charlize Theron  demonstrate that often employers only rectify these inequities when employees object. Employees can only fight against pay discrimination if they know about it, but many women cannot discover unfair wage disparities because their employers ban or discourage conversations about pay. These prohibitions cause many employees to fear retaliation simply for talking about or disclosing their pay.  In fact, some workers have been fired for even discussing what they make.

Today, the Department of Labor (DOL) finalized its rule [PDF] implementing President Obama’s Executive Order to ban pay secrecy in federal contract workplaces, protecting millions of workers who want to ask about, disclose, or discuss their pay. This marks a tremendous victory for women workers. Pay transparency is a crucial stepping stone to closing the wage gap because it allows women to discover—and work with the employer to rectify—pay discrimination.

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Let's Raise Our (Spending) Caps for Women and Families

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel and Director of Income Support Policy | Posted on: September 10, 2015 at 02:17 pm

It’s the week after Labor Day, and to be honest, it’s one of my least favorite times of year in D.C. Summer vacation is over but it’s still 90 degrees outside, traffic is a nightmare, and Congress is back in town—and everyone on and around Capitol Hill seems to be placing bets on whether we’re just a few weeks away from a government shutdown.  

A shutdown, of course, is what we’ll get if Congress doesn’t pass legislation to keep the government funded when the new fiscal year begins October 1st. And unless that legislation stops the deep budget cuts known as the “sequester” (cuts that were mitigated in FY 2014 and 2015 by the “Ryan-Murray deal”), the sequester will be back and worse than ever in FY 2016.

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