Washington, D.C. — Today, following an event at the Center for American Progress featuring Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and national leaders on the importance of women’s economic security, CAP released a new analysis examining the gender wage gap and proposes seven key policies to combat the pay gap and promote economic security for women and their families.
Data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of the Census show that the gender wage gap between full-time, year-round working men and women remained virtually unchanged between 2012 and 2013, with full-time, year-round working women earning on average 78 percent of what full-time, year-round working men make. Despite the prevailing wage gap, a measure designed to reduce the gender wage gap was blocked in the Senate earlier this week.
“The gender wage gap continues to be a deeply corrosive burden on women’s economic security, especially among low-income women and women of color,” said CAP President Neera Tanden. “While far too many women continue to struggle to make ends meet for their families, a minority in the Senate have made it their mission to obstruct efforts to address pay discrimination. Women’s economic security is a cornerstone to a vibrant economy. We must act immediately to remove the full range of barriers blocking women from fully participating in today’s workforce.”
To close the wage gap, CAP’s analysis proposes seven key policy recommendations:
- Raise the minimum wage: Women make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers, and estimates show that differences between women’s and men’s occupations could account for nearly half of the gender wage gap. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would boost wages for about 15 million women and help close the gender wage gap.
- Raise the tipped minimum wage: Women make up two-thirds of tipped workers, and the federal tipped minimum wage only pays workers $2.13 per hour. Raising the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the minimum wage ensures that the majority of workers’ incomes are coming from their employers, instead of from tips.
- Support fair scheduling practices: Women, especially women of color, are more likely to work in low-wage jobs and often have rigid, unpredictable schedules that can change with little notice. These workers risk losing their job because they lack the flexibility to alter their schedules to accommodate caregiving responsibilities. Being able to keep a job is essential to closing the gender pay gap.
- Support pay transparency: The Paycheck Fairness Act would reduce pay secrecy, give women better tools to address pay discrimination, and make it more difficult for companies to pay male workers more than female workers for doing the same job.
- Invest in affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education: The lack of high-quality, affordable early childhood programs can prevent working parents from ensuring that their families are cared for while they fulfill the demands of their jobs and can inhibit their long-term success. Investing in high-quality, affordable child care creates long-lasting structures that support both working parents and children, increasing women’s ability to keep a job, excel in the workforce, and lower the gender wage gap.
- Pass paid sick days legislation: Almost 40 million U.S. workers, or about 40 percent the private-sector workforce, do not have access to any paid sick days and must take unpaid leave from work when they fall ill. The strain is most acutely felt by low-income workers—most of whom are women; these workers are also the least likely group to have access to paid sick days.
- Pass a national paid family and medical leave insurance program: Because caregiving responsibilities most often fall to women and mothers, women end up taking unpaid time off from work or leaving the workforce entirely. The result is that women spend more time out of the labor force and are penalized for it in their pay when they return to work, often stemming from these disproportionate caregiving responsibilities. Paid leave actually has been shown to shorten time away from work and help with reentering the workforce, both of which can help increase women’s earnings and close the pay gap with men.
Read the analysis: 7 Actions that Could Shrink the Gender Wage Gap by Sarah Jane Glynn, Milia Fisher, and Emily Baxter
Watch the event: Why Women’s Economic Security Matters for All
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at [email protected] or 202-478-5328.