Current laws haven’t brought the change we need; it’s time for a new solution. Current wage discrimination laws are full of loopholes and have been weakened by Bush-appointed judges. Without new legislation and improved enforcement, the gender pay gay will persist, as it has for years.
Pay discrimination lowers wages for all workers. When women are underpaid, men’s wages are also kept down. In states with strong equal pay laws, both men’s and women’s wages are higher. [AFL-CIO]
Wage growth is essential for healthy economic growth. Economists agree that we will recover from the current recession much more quickly if middle-class wages rise. Ensuring equal pay for women will help drive the economic growth America needs.
The Paycheck Fairness Act will make filing a discrimination claim easier, provide protection for workers who blow the whistle on pay discrimination, and strengthen the Department of Labor’s efforts to ensure fair pay for all workers.
Women are being denied equal pay for equal work. Women earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. Over the course of her career, the typical working woman loses almost a quarter of a million dollars in wages, simply for being female. [Institute for Women’s Policy Research] Losses for women with advanced degrees or careers in high-paying fields can total as much as $2 million over their working lives. Across the nation, the gender pay gap costs families $200 billion every year. [AFL-CIO]
Gender—not education, experience, or achievement—is the sole cause of the pay gap between men and women. A longitudinal study of male and female professionals found that the gender pay gap begins immediately after college, when women take first jobs that pay only 80 percent as much as men’s first jobs do, and continues throughout women’s lives. [American Association of University Women] Women are paid less though they earn higher college GPAs, are more likely to complete graduate work or advanced training, and spend about as much time at work as men do.
Current efforts to ensure pay equality are insufficient. Since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, the gender wage gap has narrowed by less than half a cent per year. At this rate, women and men will have to wait another fifty years to earn equal wages. [Congressman Dingell] The Government Accounting Office reported that the federal government is not doing enough to address gender pay discrimination. [GAO]
Conservatives have a terrible record on equal pay. Conservatives in Congress have called the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act “unnecessary” and blocked cloture on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the Senate. [Center for American Progress] George Bush’s Labor Secretary even recommended that he veto the bill. [Center for American Progress] John McCain didn’t show up to vote on the Ledbetter Act and told a 14-year old girl at a townhall, “I don’t think [the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is] doing anything to help the rights of women, except maybe help trial lawyers and others in that profession.” [Washington Post]
Current economic conditions are likely to hit women hardest. Women are at risk in the current foreclosure crisis, since they were targeted by subprime lenders. Though women on average have higher credit scores than men do, women are 32 percent more likely than men to have subprime mortgages. [New York Times] Women were also hurt by past recessions: during the 2001 recession, the rate of job loss among women was higher than it was for men in many industries. [Joint Economic Committee]