President Obama announces new steps to ensure equal pay

Poverty & Family Economics

Portrait of Happy Family In ParkThe White House recently celebrated the seventh anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first major piece of legislation signed into law by President Obama. The law, named after a woman who was paid less than her male counterparts for the same work, has made it easier for workers to challenge unequal pay.

The gender and racial wage gap has serious implications for working families. Lower wages make it harder for women to afford housing, food, childcare, and other essentials. This is especially true for single mothers, who make up one third of working mothers in America. Equal pay would provide families with increased economic security, reduce poverty, and help strengthen our nations economy.

Despite the celebration, the President made clear that the fight for equal pay has not yet been won. Although women account for half the workforce, the typical woman who works full time, year round makes only earn 79 cents for every dollar her male coworkers earn. And when the pay gap is broken down by race, wider disparities come to light. For example, black women earn 60 cents and Latina women make 55 cents for every dollar their male coworkers earn.

Several new actions taken by the Obama Administration will help ensure equal pay and empower working families. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Labor, is proposing to collect pay summer data broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees. In addition, the President is calling on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1619/ S. 862) which would make it easier for workers to discuss their compensation. These promising next steps will undoubtedly pave the way towards strengthening America’s families.

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