Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, sending the bill once again to the U.S. Senate for action. Among other steps, the legislation would provide critical new tools to combat pay discrimination by strengthening the scope of equal pay protections, bolstering enforcement mechanisms, enhancing pay data collection, and limiting employers’ reliance on salary history in making hiring and compensation decisions. Jocelyn Frye, senior fellow with the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement on the bill’s House passage:
In a year when we have seen the true value of women workers to our families, workplaces, and economy, the case for ensuring that women are paid fairly for their work couldn’t be more clear. Yet the stubborn, entrenched gender pay gap continues to hurt women and their families at a time when they can least afford to be caught in the grip of economic uncertainty. Unequal pay affects virtually all women, with its harshest effects often experienced by women of color. In particular, Black women, American Indian and Alaska Native women, and Latinas working full time year-round earn 63, 60, and 55 cents, respectively, for every $1 earned by their white male counterparts. These wide wage gaps are due to the compounding effects of gender, ethnic, and racial biases that depress earnings and hinder the ability of these women to make ends meet.
Women, especially Black women, also make up an increasing share of family breadwinners, meaning that the pay discrimination they face increasingly produces a multigenerational impact that impairs family security and wealth-building. In the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has been especially harsh on women workers, the gender pay gap also has cumulative effects that could impair our economic recovery. For example, from March 2019 to March 2020, women earned roughly $550 billion less than they would have if there were no gender wage gap; and these dollars could be invaluable today for families’ ability to weather current or future crises.
Every worker deserves to be fairly compensated for their work, but failing to combat ongoing wage discrimination undermines those efforts and sustains an inequitable status quo that undervalues women and their work. After years of inaction and more than a year of women essential workers and caregivers keeping our country afloat throughout the course of the pandemic, it’s past time for the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.