Women working full time, year round in the United States were typically paid only 79 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts in 2014. For women of color, the gaps are even larger. This fact sheet provides details about the wage gap measure that the Census Bureau and the National Women’s Law Center use, factors contributing to the wage gap, and how to close the gap.
Equal pay is a family issue. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and are a growing number of breadwinners in their families. More women are also working in positions and fields that have been traditionally occupied by men. When women are not paid fairly, not only do they suffer, but so do their families.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2013, women who worked full time earned, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar men earned. The figures are even worse for women of color. African American women earned only approximately 64 cents and Latinas only 56 cents for each dollar earned by a white male.
The Paycheck Fairness Act will help secure equal pay for equal work for all Americans. The bill would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a law that has not been able to achieve its promise of closing the wage gap because of limited enforcement tools and inadequate remedies. The Paycheck Fairness Act would make critical changes to the law, including:
requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differentials are based on factors other than sex;
prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
permitting reasonable comparisons between employees within clearly defined geographical areas to determine fair wages;
strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
directing the Department of Labor to assist employers and collect wage-related data;
and authorizing additional training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff to better identify and handle wage disputes.
The time has come to make equal pay a reality. During this climate of unprecedented economic uncertainty, nothing could be more important than ensuring that all workers receive equal pay for equal work.