STRENGTHENING EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN
Equal pay is not a political issue. It is not even a gender issue. It is, at heart, a national issue, a family issue, and a matter of principle -- a question of what kind of country we want America to be today and in the 21st Century.
President Bill Clinton
June 10, 1998
Today, President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and Tipper Gore come together to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of President Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act, and to urge passage of legislation to strengthen the laws that prohibit wage discrimination against women. In addition, the President will also announce the release of two reports providing current and historical data on the wage gap between men and women.
A Continuing Need To Address The Wage Gap. The President will release the results of a Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report showing that the gender gap in wage earnings has closed 29 percent since 1963, and that the gender gap has narrowed among younger women and married women with children; however, the wage gap persists, women earn only 75 cents for every dollar earned by men. The President will also release the results of a Department of Labor report that provides a perspective of the thirty-five years since the Equal Pay Act was enacted. This report shows that:
- Participation in the labor force by women has increased from roughly 38 percent in 1960 to almost 60 percent in 1997.
- Between 1995 and 1996, the number of families with two working parents increased by nearly half a million, making equal pay even more of a family issue. The report shows that in two-parent families with children under 18, nearly 64 percent of those families have a two income household.
A Call For Improved Enforcement Of Wage Discrimination Laws. The President calls on Congress to pass legislation introduced by Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) which strengthens current laws. The legislation includes the following provisions:
- Increased Penalties For Violations Of The Equal Pay Act. The legislation would put gender-based discrimination on equal footing with wage discrimination based on race or ethnicity, allowing for full compensatory and punitive damages against a defendant company;
- Banning Retaliation Against Employees Who Share Salary Information. The legislation would allow employees to share salary information, helping women better evaluate whether they are suffering wage discrimination;
- Training, Research, and Pay Equity Award Provisions. The legislation provides for increased training of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission workers involved in matters of wage discrimination; research on discrimination in the payment of wages; and the establishment of the “National Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace”, which will recognize and promote the achievements of employers that have made strides to eliminate wage disparities.
Presidential Leadership To Ensure Equal Pay. The President firmly supports the Daschle-DeLauro measure. It is tough, fair, and equitable and goes a long way toward ensuring that as our nation moves forward into the 21st Century, equal pay will be a reality for all women who enter the workforce.
Statistics on Equal Pay:
Female Labor Force Participation Rate by State, 1977 and 1997
Gender Pay Gap by State, 1997