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Paycheck Fairness Act

201 Days Till Equal Pay: The Wage Gap for African American Women

This year the nation marked Equal Pay Day (the symbolic day when women’s earnings finally catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year) on April 8th. I was lucky enough to be able to “celebrate” by standing with President Obama at the White House as he signed two critical executive actions to address the problem of unequal pay in the federal contractor workforce.

Yes, that’s right — women overall have to work three months into the new year before their wages catch up to men’s. Even worse, when you look at the data by race and gender together it is clear that it takes even longer for women of color to catch up. That’s because the wage gaps experienced by women of color are substantially larger than for women overall. Women overall typically make only 77 percent of what men make for full time, year round work — but, for example, for African American women and Hispanic women compared to white, non-Hispanic men this figure is 64 cents and 54 cents, respectively.

Which brings us to late July — the time when we will finally reach Equal Pay Day for African American women. Read more »

Granite Staters: Take Action Now for Paycheck Fairness

On Wednesday the New Hampshire House of Representatives is expected to vote on S.B. 207, New Hampshire’s Paycheck Fairness Act. This session S.B. 207 has garnered the unanimous support of the New Hampshire state Senate, and recently passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The bill includes a number of important provisions to strengthen equal pay protections in the state.

But now your help is needed to stop a bad amendment to this bill. Read more »

How a Bill Doesn't Become a Law — Schoolhouse Rock Revisited

A few years ago I was teaching 4th grade Social Studies. About a week into the government unit I did what any self-respecting Social Studies teacher would do – show “I’m Just a Bill,” the 1975 Schoolhouse Rock classic tale of how a bill becomes a law.

The video tells the tale of a “sad little scrap of paper” – Bill – making the arduous journey to becoming a law. The journey is long, but simple. Some folks shared an idea for a new law with their Congressman, he agreed and introduced Bill who gets stuck in committee for a bit (at this point Bill frets that he might die!), Bill passes the House and then the Senate, narrowly escapes a veto, and is finally signed into law by the President!

But lately it feels like I was teaching my students the wrong thing. I mean that’s ‘technically’ the way a bill becomes a law (and all a ten-year-old really needs to understand) but there are so many additional roadblocks to quality legislation. Read more »

Women in Low-Wage Jobs Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work

It should be startling that even in the ten largest jobs that pay very low wages –$10.10 an hour or less – women still see a 10 cent gender wage gap on the dollar.* And this is despite the fact that women make up more than three-quarters of the workers in these jobs.

Across the income spectrum, the wage gap hurts women and families. But women in low-wage jobs can least afford it. They are already making do with less. They shouldn’t have to make do with pay discrimination too.

Mothers with children under 18 make up nearly one-quarter of these workers, although they make up just over 16 percent of workers overall.  In 2011, 40 percent of households with children under 18 had a mother as the primary breadwinner—and two-thirds of those households were led by single mothers with a median family income of just $23,000.  These hardworking breadwinner moms and their families deserve equal pay for equal work. Read more »

Welcome to the Wage Gap Cafe

On average, women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make. That amounts to $11,000 per year in lost wages  – no small chunk of change.  For many women, this means sometimes having to choose between buying enough groceries and going to the doctor or between paying this month's rent and that college loan. Some have a harder time getting the picture, so I’m going break it down for those of you who can’t quite visualize the difference 23 cents makes.

What if you went into a restaurant and someone took a few bites out of whatever deliciousness you ordered – and they ate about 23% of it. You would get pretty mad, right?

Imagine if someone just took a chunk out of your…

Pizza: Oh, I’m sorry – I didn’t see your female parts there. This is the “woman sized” slice of pizza. After all – you don’t need a whole slice, do you? That would just be greedy. Read more »

The Fair Minimum Wage Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act - Perfect Together

You know what I love?  When two things go together perfectly.  Cake and ice cream.  Wine and cheese.  Chocolate and…well, OK, chocolate pretty much goes perfectly with everything.

Two bills that are expected to see some action in Congress this month, The Fair Minimum Wage Act and Paycheck Fairness go together perfectly, too.  That’s because they’re both critical issues for women – and both will help women achieve fair pay.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index these wages to keep pace with inflation. Raising the minimum wage would help women achieve fair pay: Read more »

The State of States and Equal Pay in 2014

This Tuesday, April 8th is Equal Pay Day—the day women would have to work until (in addition to working all of 2013!) to make the same amount of money that men made in 2013. We all know that nationally, women working full time, year round typically make 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the figure hasn’t budged in a decade. You should also know that the wage gap is even worse for women of color—African-American women working full time, year round make only 64 cents, and Hispanic women make only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

The national wage gap figures grab headlines but what’s less talked about is the variability in the wage gap by state. For example, in D.C. women working full time, year round make 90 cents for every dollar paid to men (which puts DC at #1 in terms of women’s pay equity), but in Wyoming women make only 64 percent of what men make (#51).

States that have smaller wage gaps for women overall don’t necessarily have smaller wage gaps for all groups of women, and there are some stark differences for women of color. Again looking at our nation’s capital, African-American women in D.C. make only 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, which makes DC the 4th worst state in the country for African-American women’s pay equity. Similarly, in California women overall make 84 percent of what men make (putting California at #6 in women’s pay equity), but Hispanic women in California make only 44 percent of white, non-Hispanic men—making California the 2nd worst state in the country for Hispanic women’s pay equity.  Read more »

Equal Pay Week 2014 — Resources

American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.  We're working to reduce this wage gap and to ensure that male and female employees get equal pay and benefits for comparable work.  The Paycheck Fairness Act is a commonsense bill that would give workers stronger tools to combat wage discrimination, bar retaliation against workers for discussing salary information, and ensure full compensation for victims of gender-based pay discrimination. 

Below is a list of resources you can use to educate yourself about equal pay, the wage gap, and the Paycheck Fairness Act. We will continue to add to this list between now and the end of Equal Pay Week (April 7-11, 2014), so keep checking back for more! And of course, be sure to read our blog posts on this topic — from NWLC staff and our partners. Read more »

Equal Pay Takes Center Stage in Congress

Today the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee of the U.S. Senate took up the issue of how to ensure that all women receive equal pay for equal work. The Committee held a hearing on the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), a bill that will strengthen the federal Equal Pay Act and get at many of the root causes of the persistence of pay disparities.

Half a century after the Equal Pay Act was adopted, the typical woman still earns just 77 cents for each dollar a man earns for full-time work – and the situation is even worse for women of color. A gender wage gap persists even after taking account of factors like education and occupation. Too many women continue to be paid less for doing the same job, and performing it just as well, as a male colleague.

Here are just some of the critical things that the PFA will do to put an end to this discrimination and close the gender wage gap: Read more »

The Greatest Myth of All is That There is Nothing to Be Done About the Wage Gap

Everyone seems to agree on the basic facts [PDF]: that women overall earn less than men; that the gender wage gap starts out fairly small early in women’s careers and then grows over time; that the gender wage gap does get smaller, but doesn’t disappear, when accounting for factors like occupation and experience; and that men and women are still more likely to be concentrated in jobs that pay dramatically different wages. In truth the only disagreement is whether we should be doing something about this.

Yet in the wake of President Obama’s acknowledgment in last week’s State of the Union of the plain fact that women working full time, year round in this country typically earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, commentators have come out of the woodwork to decry this wage gap as a “myth”. Calling the wage gap a myth implies that policy changes would be futile in closing the gap – and that is simply untrue. Read more »