The Obama administration’s focus on the so-called gender pay gap this past week turned out be an embarrassment when it was revealed that women who work at the White House earn 88 cents on the dollar as compared to men, i.e., 12 percent less than their male counterparts.
White House spokesman Jay Carney lamely claimed that this gap was nonetheless higher than the national average and added that “when it comes to the bottom line that women who do the same work as men have to be paid the same, there is no question that that is happening here at the White House at every level.”
On Tuesday, which was declared “Equal Pay Day,” President Barack Obama issued two executive orders to cause companies that do business with the federal government to pay women and men equally.
The gender pay gap would appear to be a wedge issue that Democrats want to use in the fall campaign against the Republicans. Pay discrimination has been illegal in the US since 1963, however. According to opponents, the add-on Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 amounted to another giveaway to the trial lawyers, as is the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act that failed to pass the Senate this week. Is the problem currently so severe that more government intervention is necessary?
Some if not many employers tend to low-ball men and women as far as salaries are concerned. Gender-based bias can land an employer in court. If gender-related pay discrimination — rather than just penny-pinching or fundamentally unfair arbitrary behavior — is so widespread on the part of dodgy employers as the Democrats claim, however, would it be more likely that businesses aim for an all-female or female-dominated workforce perhaps?
There has been a lot of discussion and debate about women supposedly earning 77 percent what men earn (perhaps 81% according to the latest US Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers) but that has been generally debunked when job descriptions, seniority, and other factors are taken into consideration. Jay Carney’s explanation ironically seemed to agree with those who claim the pay gap is a myth. Even the Washington Post gave the Obama administration two Pinocchios for the 77 percent claim.
In addition to the Obama White House, other Democrat officeholders who pay women less than men reportedly include US Senators Mark Udall, Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich, and Mark Warner.
At the time the president raised the 77 percent claim in the January State of the Union address, The Daily Beast explained that “The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers … The White House should stop using women’s choices to construct a false claim about social inequality that is poisoning our gender debates. And if the President is truly persuaded that statistical pay disparities indicate invidious discrimination, then he should address the wage gap in his own backyard. Female staff at the White House earn 88 cents on the dollar compared to men. Is there a White House war on women?”
Writing in The Wall Street Journal about equal pay, two economists explained that its important compare apples with apples rather than apples with oranges: “… Men were almost twice as likely as women to work more than 40 hours a week, and women almost twice as likely to work only 35 to 39 hours per week. Once that is taken into consideration, the pay gap begins to shrink. Women who worked a 40-hour week earned 88% of male earnings. Then there is the issue of marriage and children. The BLS reports that single women who have never married earned 96% of men’s earnings in 2012. The supposed pay gap appears when marriage and children enter the picture. Child care takes mothers out of the labor market, so when they return they have less work experience than similarly-aged males. The supposed pay gap appears when marriage and children enter the picture. Child care takes mothers out of the labor market, so when they return they have less work experience than similarly-aged males… ”
Do you think there is a significant gender wage gap in America, i.e., that similarly situated women don’t earn as much as men, or is it a myth? As far as equal pay, has the Obama administration found itself in a “do as I say, not as I do” scenario?
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