NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clinton's Wage Gap Plan Draws Fire

January 25, 2000

President Clinton's $27 million plan to help close the wage gap between men and women has drawn opposition. The expenditure breaks down this way:

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would get $10 million to train 1,000 agents about equal pay laws.
  • The Labor Department would get $17 million to help train women for jobs in which they have been underrepresented, especially in the high-tech sector.

Congressional critics say the package would do little except encourage lawsuits and "serve primarily to ensure full employment for lawyers."

Other critics point to problems with the Clinton plan.

  • The wage gap between men and women is shrinking, not growing.
  • As recently as 1980, women made just 59 cents for every dollar men made; now it's 76 cents.
  • In 1960, just 28 percent of women with children worked, compared with 71 percent in 1998 -- and as they stay in the market longer, their pay grows.
  • Women's share of doctorates has quadrupled since 1960, which also boosts average pay.

Assuming employers routinely discriminate against women defies logic, say critics, because in this strong job market companies would put themselves at a disadvantage by paying highly qualified workers less than what they're worth.

Another reason the wage gap still exists: woman have tended to go into low-paying fields such as nursing and education, while men still make up the bulk of higher-paying fields.

When differences in education, time on the job and experience are accounted for, experts say, the wage gap is almost zero.

Source: Paul Leavitt, "Work Panel Members Oppose Clinton's Plan," USA Today; Macroscope, "The Wage Gap Myth," Investor's Business Daily, both January 25, 2000.


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