Women and the Unequal Pay Myth

June 25, 2013

At a recent event celebrating the Equal Pay Act, President Obama once again repeated the myth that women earn 77 cents on a man's dollar, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.

In reality, the 77 percent figure is bogus because it averages all full-time women, no matter what education and profession, with all full-time men.

  • Even with such averaging, the latest Labor Department figures show that women working full-time make 81 percent of full-time men's wages.
  • For men and women who work 40 hours weekly, the ratio is 88 percent.
  • Unmarried childless women's salaries, however, often exceed men's.
  • In a comparison of unmarried and childless men and women between the ages of 35 and 43, women earn more -- 108 cents on a man's dollar.
  • In 2012, female White House staffers made 87 cents on a man's dollar, according to an analysis of published salaries by the Daily Caller.

Women make less than men because they choose more humanities and fewer science and math majors at college. Then, when they graduate, more enter the non-profit or government sector. In addition, many choose to work fewer hours to better combine work and family. In May, 2013, according to Labor Department data, 23 percent of women worked part-time, compared to 11 percent of men.

To solve the pay gap, the president reiterated his call for passage of the misnamed Paycheck Fairness Act sponsored by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.). The bill has no chance of becoming law in this Congress, as it failed to pass the Democratic-controlled Congress in the first two years of the president's term. If the bill were passed, the threat of litigation about pay differences between men and women and minorities and whites would raise the potential cost of employment, discouraging hiring.

Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "Women and the Unequal Pay Myth," Real Clear Markets, June 18, 2013.

 

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