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                            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 

     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.