Source: Real Clear Politics
In light of Equal Pay Day, the day a female employee must work into the next year in order to earn the same amount as their male counterparts earned the previous year, Arquette and Maloney revealed findings from a study conducted by Congress’s Joint Economic Committee.
Among those findings: A woman working full time earns $10,800 less a year, based on median annual income, than a man. This percentage yields a nearly half-million-dollar wage deficit during a female worker’s career, according to the report.
Yet women make up 51 percent of the nation’s population and represent the largest voting bloc, said Arquette, who drew attention to the issue of pay discrepancy when receiving a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2015 for her role in “Boyhood.”
“Inaction is a choice,” she said. “It’s a choice when laws that could help women like the Paycheck Fairness Act or the Equal Rights Amendment are either ignored, voted down or not given a vote at all. So make no mistake. Women are receiving a strong message. The message is that many of our leaders do not care that there is historic discrimination occurring to one half of our population.”
The pay gap has barely shrunk in the last 30 years, and what shrinkage has occurred can be largely attributed to the fact that men are earning less money, the actress said. At this rate, the gender pay gap will not close until 2059. According to the Council of Economic Advisers, female workers have helped boost the economy by $2 trillion since becoming more active in the workplace in 1970.
A woman earns about 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. But the pay gap is even greater for black and Latino women, who earn 60 percent and 55 percent, respectively, of what a white man earns, according to the report.
“Women shouldn’t be paying a hidden national gender and race tax,” Arquette said.
The gap does not discriminate based on education, as women’s median earnings are lower at every education level. On average, a woman with a graduate degree earns about $5,000 less than a man with a bachelor’s degree, according to the report.
The report also notes that the gap increases as women get older. Those ages 18 to 24 earn 88 percent of what their male co-workers do, while those over age 35 earn 76 percent.
By age 65, women earned 44 percent less than what their male peers did. This affects retirement incomes, which are computed based on the amount of money earned over a lifetime. If a woman drops out of the workforce to raise her children, those years of no income are averaged in with her working years, which lowers her monthly Social Security benefit, Maloney said. Women 75 years and older are nearly twice as likely as men of the same age to live in poverty.
Maloney is the lead sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which she believes will help erase the pay gap.
“Equality under the law for both women and men in the Constitution would prohibit sex discrimination in the workplace or schools,” the congresswoman said. “The Equal Rights Amendment would help defend against bias in wages, benefits, hiring practices and other conditions of employment and hold employers accountable for creating fair workplace.”
Arquette is visiting lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss issues such as paid leave and affordable and accessible child care. America is one of two countries in the world that does not guarantee paid leave for the birth of a child, Maloney said.
“We need to live by the principles that equality is an American value that we must live by,” Arquette said. “
President Obama echoed these sentiments on Tuesday. “Equal pay for equal work should be a fundamental principle of our economy,” he said when awarding national monument status to a Capitol Hill house that has served as a hub for women’s right activists for nearly a century. “It’s the idea that whether you’re a high school teacher, a business executive, or a professional soccer player or tennis player, your work should be equally valued and rewarded, whether you are a man or a woman.”