Every Day an Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day. President Obama: "A woman deserves equal pay for equal work... It's time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a 'Mad Men' episode."

Today, President Obama asked me to join him in solving a problem that should have been solved long ago.

The pay gap costs the typical working woman hundreds of thousands of dollars over her career, and for women of color, the gap is even larger. Women working hard every day to support their families aren’t being rewarded with a fair wage. Especially as the father of two daughters just a few years from entering the workforce, I am committed to closing this gap.

Every year on Equal Pay Day we pause to recognize the extra time, on average, women must work in order to get the same pay that men receive in a year. This is not only unfair; it’s bad for our economy, costing us more than $400 billion in lost productivity. As President Obama has said, “In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, we must use all of America’s talent to its fullest potential – because when women succeed, America succeeds.”

This morning, the president put that belief into action. With the stroke of a pen, he authorized two executive actions that will help the Labor Department better detect and combat pay discrimination wherever we find it.

First, the president signed an executive order that prohibits retaliation by federal contractors against workers who discuss their pay, lifting the restrictions that keep too many workers in the dark and preventing them from advocating for fair and equal pay. He also signed a presidential memorandum directing me to issue new regulations collecting summary pay data from federal contractors. Collectively, these two actions will enhance pay transparency and give workers and investigators the tools they need to identify and remedy discrimination.

We know that almost half of all workers report that they are forbidden or strongly discouraged from discussing pay in the workplace. By eliminating this sort of retaliation, we can empower workers with the information they need to safeguard their own rights. And by collecting pay data from employers, we can help them better identify pay disparities in their own workplaces and help us focus on discrimination that most workers don’t even know about.

At the Department of Labor, I am proud of the work we’ve already done to close the pay gap – from recovering back pay for workers paid less due to discrimination, to educating workers about their rights and employers about their responsibilities. We are ready to take on these new responsibilities that can make our enforcement the credible deterrent it needs to be. But we are also ready to work with federal contractors who want to implement these new actions most effectively in their own workplaces. Our goal is always to support voluntary and proactive compliance with the law.

Scholars estimate that closing the pay gap would cut the poverty rate for working women in half. Today’s executive actions, along with raising the minimum wage will help create more opportunity for all working women and their families. And when we put more money in women’s pockets, it provides a boost for the whole economy

Today we mark Equal Pay Day as the distance between our nation’s promise of equal opportunity and the reality. One day soon, I believe we will close that gap for good. And then every day will be an Equal Pay Day. Secretary Perez

Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter as @LaborSec and join the conversation about this issue using #EqualPay and #CloseTheGap.


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Comments (5)

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  1. Ruth Trott says:

    What an exciting moments we are living through. I for one of the underpaid professional woman, a graduated Industrial Engineer in the 80’s. Now am only making enough to keep me out of the unemployment lines.
    Thank you for all your hard work and dedication, may GOD & JESUS BLESS YOU ALL.
    Best Regards,

  2. Benjamin Ray says:

    so which figure is the actual gap? the President, Senators have said that it is $.77/$1.00 Others have said, it is a nickel difference. Which is it? It would nice to have this debate on an equal field so that we can resolve it, if there truly is something to resolve. Women in general work fewer hours than men and therefore should be paid less.

    Thanks for the open comment ability.

    Ben Ray

  3. Greg says:

    Why not just enforce the law that has been on the books for over thirty years and forget the grandstanding!

  4. Tracy Lawson says:

    This is crap. Stop trying to manage our lives and focus on smaller government. I make more than most of the men around me because I work hard, am honest and go a good job. If everyone put in the effort that a job requires and more so, then they would be compensated fairly. Government can’t even manage the laws they have now and have screwed up our lives with the “Affordable” Health Care Act (Obamacare). Why don’t you focus on balancing the budget, paying off our debt, fixing the screw ups you have already done and being honest and not breaking the laws or our Constitutional Rights. Less Government is the answer, not more meddling.

  5. Sam Wilkins says:

    It would seem that if this gap is real all of these nasty and mean employers would just hire all women and save 23 cents for every dollar spent on wages. Why hire men when you can get comparable productivity and save on the cost of labor?

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