Over fifty after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Senate is poised to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a much needed update to this law. While the Equal Pay Act was a historic piece of legislation that finally acknowledged that women were owed equal pay for equal work, it's clear that additional improvements are still needed. As we "celebrate" Equal Pay Day on April 8, the symbolic day into 2014 a woman must work to earn as much as a man did in 2013 alone, there is no better time for Congress to vote for equal pay now.
Here are some numbers to consider in advance of the vote.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time still earn, on average, only 77 cents for every 1 dollar men earn.
- The statistics are even worse for women of color. On average, African American women being paid only 64 cents, and the gap for Latinas is only 54 cents when compared to white men.
- Just one year out of college, women working full time who are of similar age, education, and family responsibilities are paid on average just 82 cents of what their male peers were paid.
- If the wage gap were closed, women and their families, on average, would have $11,000 more in their pockets.
- By age 65, the average woman has lost $431,000 due to the earnings gap.
- If women received pay equal to their male counterparts, the U.S. economy would produce $447.6 billion in additional income.
And here's another number: 60
That's the number of Senators we need to vote to allow the Paycheck Fairness Act to move forward.
The Senate is expected to take a procedural vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act next week to allow the bill to be debated and heard on its merits. It's been 17 years since this bill was first introduced, and it deserves to make it past this hurdle and get an up or down vote.
Support for the Paycheck Fairness Act is overwhelming: 84% of registered voters said they support a new law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace. But unfortunately, partisan gridlock may mean getting 60 senators to support moving forward on the bill will prove the hardest number of all.
Looking at the real life impact of the wage gap, that just doesn't add up. In this tough economic climate, there is no better time than now for our Members of Congress to support fair pay legislation. Families clearly want and need to bring home every dollar they rightfully earn – making pay equity even more necessary, not only to families' economic security, but to the nation's economic recovery. Senators must recognize that not only is correcting discrimination a matter of fundamental fairness, but doing so would help to contribute to economic prosperity nationwide. These are dollars that already belong to their constituents.
When the bill comes up for a vote, we urge the Senate to do the right thing – for women, for their families, and for our nation.