THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 10,1998
President Clinton Calls for Passage of Equal Pay Legislation and Releases Council of Economic Advisers' Report on the Wage Gap June 10, 1998
Today, President Clinton will commemorate the 35th anniversary of President Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act and will urge passage of legislation to strengthen the laws that prohibit wage discrimination against women. In addition, the President will release a Council of Economic Advisers' (CEA) report on the gender wage gap, and announce a Department of Labor report that provides a historical perspective of the wage gap. The President will be joined by Dr. Dorothy Height, President Emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, who also attended the signing ceremony for the Equal Pay Act on June 10, 1963.
Legislation to Improve Enforcement of Wage Discrimination Laws. The President will call on Congress to pass legislation, introduced by Senator Tom Daschle and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, to strengthen laws prohibiting wage discrimination. Highlights of this legislation include:
Increased Penalties for the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The legislation adds full compensatory and punitive damages as remedies, in addition to the liquidated damages and back pay awards currently available under the EPA. This proposal would put gender-based wage discrimination on equal footing with wage discrimination based on race or ethnicity, for which uncapped compensatory and punitive damages are already available. Non-retaliation provision. The bill would prohibit employers from punishing employees for sharing salary information with their co-workers. Currently, employers are free to take action against employees who share wage information. Without the ability to learn about wage disparities, it is difficult for women to evaluate whether there is wage discrimination. Training, Research, and Pay Equity Award. The Daschle-DeLauro bill provides for increased training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission employees on matters involving the discrimination of wages; research on discrimination in the payment of wages; and the establishment of the "The National Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace," which will recognize and promote the achievements of employers that have made strides to eliminate pay disparities. CEA Report on the Wage Gap. The President will announce a report
by the CEA that shows that a significant gap between the wages of women and men remains today although it has narrowed substantially since the signing of the Equal Pay Act.
Gender Pay Gap Has Narrowed: Today, Women Earn 75 Cents for Every Dollar Men Earn. In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was signed, women earned 58 cents for every dollar men earned. Today, women earn about 75 cents for every dollar men earn -- a 29-percent increase over the 1963 levels. The gender gap has narrowed more rapidly among younger women and among married women with children. And relative to all male workers, wage gains have been faster for black and white women than for Hispanic women. Rise in Work Experience And Move To Higher-Paying Jobs Explain Part of Narrowing of Wage Gap. Over the past 20 years, increases in women's average work experience and movement into higher-paying occupations have played a major role in increasing women's pay relative to men's. Changes in family status, in industry structure, and unionization have also worked to narrow the wage gap, while the rising returns to skills and increased wage inequality would have, by themselves, widened the pay gap. Much of Gender Gap Is "Unexplained." In the 1980s, about one-third of the gender pay gap was explained by differences in the skills and experience that women bring to the labor market and about 28 percent was due to differences in industry, occupation, and union status among men and women. This leaves over one-third of the gender pay gap "unexplained" by factors such as educational attainment, work experience, and occupational choice. Labor Market Discrimination Persists. The evidence is that labor market discrimination against women persists. One indirect and rough measure of the extent of discrimination remaining in the labor market is the "unexplained" difference in pay. And academic studies -- whether looking at pay differences between men and women in very similar jobs or by comparing pay to specific measures of productivity -- have consistently found evidence of ongoing discrimination in the labor market. Department of Labor Report Provides a Historical Perspective on
the Wage Gap. The President also will announce a Department of Labor report that provides a thirty-five year perspective on the wage gap. This report focuses on three periods since the signing of the Equal Pay Act -- 1960-1975, 1975-1985, and 1985-1997 -- and highlights the increased participation of women in the labor force, the changing occupations of women, and the emergence of more women-owned businesses.
Women's Labor Force Participation Has Increased. Women's labor force participation rate rose from 37.7 percent in 1960 to almost 60 percent in 1997. Increased Contributions by Women to Family Income. Between 1995 and 1996 alone, the number of families with two working parents increased by nearly half a million, making equal pay even more of a family issue. In these years, both parents were employed in 63.9 percent of married-couple families with children 18 and younger, while 28.2 percent of these families had an employed father and homemaker mother.