Everyone as certainly heard the arguments regarding equal pay for women. Some speculate that women are paid less simply because they choose lower-paying positions, or that women work more part time jobs than men. There are so many different justifications for the pay disparity. But, what many people don't realize is that the pay gap is based on more than just gender.
What does the 79% really mean?
One of the primary arguments made in favor of wage reform and pay equality is the 79% statistic. Where did this come from? According to reports and studies done on this issue, in 2014, women working full time in the United States were paid just 79 percent of what men were paid. That is a serious pay gap of 21 percent. Though this number demonstrates that the gap has narrowed since the 1970s it is still too substantial to ignore
The pay gap is worse for minority women
The reality is, the pay gap affects women from all backgrounds, at all ages, and of all levels of educational achievement. However, among full-time workers in 2014, Hispanic, African American, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian women had lower median annual earnings than non-Hispanic white and Asian American women.
What the wage statistics show about race
The benchmark used for wage comparisons are non-Hispanic white men, who represent the largest demographic group in the labor force. Using that benchmark, Asian American women's salaries have the smallest gender pay gap, at 90% of white men. On the other hand, the gap was largest for Hispanic and Latina women who were paid only 54% of what white men were paid in 2014.
Education doesn't make much of a difference
The gender pay gap remains consistent across educational levels. The gap is worse for African-American and Hispanic women, regardless of whether they are college graduates. Consequently, women who finish college are less likely to pay off their student loans promptly, resulting in those women paying back more and for a longer time than men.
Age effects the wage gap nearly as much as race
Wages for both male and female full-time workers typically increase with age, with a plateau seen after age 45 and sharp decrease after age 65. Likewise, the gender pay gap also increases with age. Differences among older workers are considerably larger than with younger workers.
What the Equal Pay Act requires
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) is a federal law that requires employers to pay men and women the same for performing the same work. Although the Act was intended to protect both women and men from discriminatory pay, the primary purpose was to help remedy the wage disparity experienced overwhelmingly by women. Indeed, this particular anti-discrimination law has almost always been used in situations where women are paid less than men for doing the same job. Nearly all employees are covered by the Equal Pay Act, which regulates the wage and salary policies of state, local, and federal governments and the majority of private employers.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.