Image of woman working with text "97% of women working full-time earn less than their male counterparts"
It's been 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act. It's safe to say, though, that equal pay may be the law but it's not the reality. No, not four years after President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, either. "Over the course of her career, a working woman with a college degree will earn on average hundreds of thousands of dollars less than a man who does the same work," Obama said, speaking on the anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. "Now, that’s wrong. I don’t want that for Malia and Sasha. I don’t want that for your daughters. I don’t want that to be an example that any child growing up ends up accepting as somehow the norm." But, he continued, "this is not just an issue of fairness."
This is a family issue. This is a middle-class issue. This is an economic issue. Just last week, a report confirmed what we already know: that women are increasingly the breadwinners for American families. Women are now the primary source of income for nearly 40 percent of American families. Forty percent—almost half. [...]

If they’re bringing home more of the income and that income is less than a fair share, that means that families have less to get by on for childcare or health care, or gas or groceries. It makes it harder for middle-class families to save and retire. It leaves small businesses with customers who have less money in their pockets—which is not good for the economy. That’s not a good example to set for our sons and daughters, but it’s also not a good recipe for long-term, stable economic growth.

How do we improve that? The president had several answers, but two stand out as being real game-changers. One, raise the minimum wage; as he observed, 60 percent of minimum-wage workers are women. Two, pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, including imposing a stricter standard for employers to show that pay disparities weren't just because of gender, strengthening penalties for breaking the law, and making it easier for women to find out if they were being discriminated against to begin with.

Pay discrimination is real. It hurts women and the families they support. It's time to update our outdated laws to make it stop. Tell Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Economics and Daily Kos.

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