By Stephen Moore
The Equal Pay Act, sponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), is a laughably bad idea — almost a parody of liberal interventionism in the market. Under the law, there is federal funding for girls’ negotiation training and grant awards for reducing gender discrimination. It bestows on disgruntled employees yet more grounds on which to sue their employers for alleged discrimination – when, in most cases, the malcontents are just sub-par employees.
But that’s not even the major flaw of this latest Democratic measure against gender discrimination. The crisis in America today isn’t about women’s wages; it’s about men’s wages. Men are still the chief breadwinners in most families, and their wages are not moving much at all. If we look at Census Bureau data, we find that while men’s wages have risen by about 6 percent in real terms since 1980, women’s wages have risen by about 60 percent. Any gap in pay — real or imagined — is rapidly shrinking.
President Obama uses the figure of 77 cents earned by a woman for every dollar earned by a man. But that is a comparison of all women with all men (and even Mr. Obama’s own economists say a woman earns 81 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart). In fact, a 2009 Labor Department study found that, when we control for work experience and education, the gap is only about 5 percent. And when we account for the fact that men are more likely to be injured or suffer an accident on the job, and do riskier work and often more unpleasant jobs than women, the gap virtually disappears. My friend Mark Perry, an economist who runs the Carpe Diem blog at the American Enterprise Institute, has documented all this.
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Furthermore, the latest surveys of college graduates find virtually no pay discrepancy between men and women, so for this generation the 77-cents mantra is as outdated as bell-bottom jeans.
Read more: Heritage.org
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