Why Equal Pay for Women Would Benefit the U.S. Economy

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On average, women do not receive equal pay for doing the same jobs men do. Not only should women receive fair pay because they deserve it, but because it would be good for the U.S. economy. Consider this:  42 percent of women are their families’ sole or primary source of income and women contribute 43 percent of the gross national product.

Women Spend More Money Than Men, Thereby Sustaining the Economy

According to a study in part conducted by WomenCertified, a women’s consumer advocacy and retail training organization, women spend $4 trillion annually, accounting for 83 percent of all U.S. Consumer spending – or, an astounding two-thirds of the nation’s gross national product.

Some say those figures are even higher. According to the most recent figures form Nielsen Consumer, the collective power of a woman's wallet range from $5 trillion to $15 trillion spent annually. In fact, according to recent figures, women buy over 50 percent of goods that some might consider "men's" products, such as video games and other electronics, cars, and tools for DIY home and garden.

Time Line of Legislation Affecting Women’s Pay

In 1963, President John Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act. But this law has been ineffective. According to Dawn Rosenberg McKay, Guide to Career Planning:

"Employers do not always abide by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or by the other laws that require equal pay for equal work. In Fiscal Year 2006 (October 1, 2005 to September 30, 2006), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 861 complaints about wage discrimination, which included accusations of employers violating the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act (Charge Statistics: FY 1997 through FY 2006."

In 2007 Barack Obama introduced the Fair Pay Restoration Act; it was defeated in the Senate (John McCain did not show up for the vote).

In 2007 the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 was introduced. Obama supported the bill, McCain voted no. The Bill has passed the Senate.

  • The Fair Pay Restoration Act
  • The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007
  • Why Did John McCain Vote Against Equal Pay?

We Underpay Women for the Same Jobs Men Perform

The wage gap between men and women is narrowing by less than half a percent per year. Add inflation and the increased cost of living and women are doing worse, not better since equal pay laws were enacted.

  • In 2018, all women combined earned only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. One new study by  The Women's Institute for Policy Research found that amount isn't exactly accurate. The study cites it much less--49 percent. 
  • African American women earn only 61 cents on the dollar earned by men.
  • Hispanic American women earn only 54 cents on the dollar earned by men.

According to the Katherine Lewis, Guide to Working Moms, the above statistics are may be actually worse:

"Government statistics show that women are paid only 77 cents for each dollar earned by men. But Moms Rising says that crunching the numbers reveals an even grimmer situation: women “earn 10% less than their male counterparts; mothers earn 27% less; and single mothers earn between 34% and 44% less.”

Failing to provide equal pay to deserving women not only hurts women and their families, it also hurts the U.S. economy.