Equal Pay



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Pay equity means of eliminating sex and race discrimination in the wage-setting system. The wage gap is currently at 73 cents to the dollar. That means the wage gap has narrowed by less than a half penny per year. There are currently two laws that protect against wage discrimination, The Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits unequal pay or “substantially equal” work performed by men and women. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits wage discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion or national origin. Pay equity is a benefit for everyone. Women and people of color should not be in fear of asking how much someone else is making or to question, why they aren’t making a certain amount, when their co-worker is making it.
In order to eliminate the pay gap, we need to do the follow, keep affirmative action programs in place, employers need to examine and correct their pay practices, woman and people of color must stand up for equal pay, and we must push for new legislation spelling out equal pay requirements.
A strong economy can sustain fair pay for all workers. And an economy in which all people regardless of gender or race are paid fairly and well will grow even stronger.








INTRODUCTION
What is pay equity? It is a means of eliminating sex and race discrimination in the wage-setting system. Most women and people of color are still segregated into a small number of jobs such as clerical, service workers, nurses and teachers. These jobs have historically been undervalued and continue to be under paid because of the gender and race of the people who hold them. Pay equity means that the criteria employers use to set wages must be sex- and race-neutral.
ANALYSIS
Two laws protect workers against wage discrimination. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits unequal pay or “substantially equal” work performed by men and women. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits wage discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion or national origin. In 1981, the Supreme Court made it clear that Title VII is broader than the Equal Pay Act, and prohibits wage discrimination even when the jobs are not identical. However, wage discrimination laws are poorly enforced and are extremely difficult to prove and win. Stronger legislation is needed to ease the burden of filing claims and clarify the right to pay equity.
The wage gap exists, in part, because women and people of color are still segregated into few low-paying occupations. More than half of all women workers hold sales, clerical and service jobs. Studies show that the more an occupation is dominated by women or people of color, the less it pays. Part of the wage gap results from differences in education, experience or time in the workforce. But a significant portion cannot be explained by any of those factors; it is attributable to discrimination. In other words, certain jobs pay less because women and people of color hold them.

THE WAGE GAP: 1998
1998 Median Annual Earnings of Year-Round, Full-Time Workers
All Men $35,345 (100%)
All Women $25,362 (73%)
Men Women
White $36,172 $26,243
Black $27,050 $22,648
Hispanic $22,285 $19,221
Source: US Census Bureau, Current Population Reports


The wage gap has narrowed by about twelve percentage points during the last fourteen years, ranging from 61 percent in 1982 to 73 percent in 1998. Since 1973 however, approximately 60 percent of the change in the wage gap is due to the fall in men’s real earnings. About 40 percent of the change in the wage gap is due to the increase in women’s wages. The wage gap has fluctuated often ranging from a low of 57 percent in the mid 1970’s, and peaking at 74 percent in 1996. Currently the national average wage gap is 27 cents, 37 cents for African-American women, and 47 cents for Hispanic women.
Many employers have used job evaluations for nearly a century to set pay and rank for different occupations within a company or organization. Today, firms that use some form of job evaluation employ two of three workers. The federal government, the nation’s largest employer, has a 70-year-old job evaluation system that covers nearly two million employees.
Women, people of color, and white men who work in jobs that have been undervalued due to race or sex bias need pay equity.