What the Paycheck Fairness Act Really Means
Happy Equal Pay Day! According to much of the mainstream media, this is the day that women have finally earned enough money to make up for last year’s wage gap. The press regularly repeats the misleading statistic as evidence that women suffer from systematic discrimination in the workplace when reporting on workplace issues or potential government legislation. Yet this Cleveland Plain Dealer article by Janet Cho is particularly one-side and misleading.
The first line offers readers a tremendously inaccurate picture of what this statistic—and the feminist-manufactured holiday—of women’s experience in the workplace: “Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, the point in the year when a working woman’s salary catches up with what her male co-worker made in 2008.”
But in fact, the statistic does not compare male and female “co-workers” — it compares the median full-time working woman to the median full-time working man. And those two aren’t likely to be co-workers, because men and women tend to gravitate toward different occupations, different job sectors, have different levels of experience, and assume different responsibilities. There is an entire book dedicated to exploring the root of the wage gap - Why Men Earn More - which shows how the gap vanishes once these and other factors are taken into account. There are even professions and specialties in which women tend to out-earn men once you control for enough variables.
The article also reports that “This year, the National Committee on Pay Equity is asking people to urge their senators to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, to update and bolster the Equal Pay Act of 1963.” Yet the Paycheck Fairness Act would do much more than “update and bolster” the Equal Pay Act, which outlawed discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act represents a major expansion of government into monitoring compensation packages, which could make our workforce less flexible and hinder our economic growth.
Laws like the Paycheck Fairness Act would have big consequences for our economy, and the public deserves to know that truth.