March 24 is Equal Pay Day—as ever, the occasion for a resoundingly sarcastic “woohoo.” If you start counting on January 1, 2020, Equal Pay Day marks the day on which women have been paid as much as men had been paid by December 31, 2020. Women working full-time and year-round make, on average, 82 cents for every dollar men make.
Soccer stars including Megan Rapinoe are testifying about equal pay before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, as well as meeting with President Joe and Dr. Jill Biden at the White House. Members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team recently settled part of a lawsuit dealing with unequal working conditions, but are appealing to have equal pay addressed in court. They appear in the immediate wake of a scandal over the unequal treatment of players in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
“I feel like I pull on this shirt for equal pay and for the fans and for kids who want to be in my position,” Rapinoe recently told ESPN. “So that never feels in conflict.”
This is already a crisis situation, and it’s been compounded by the unequal harms of the coronavirus pandemic, which have hit women especially hard—and especially Black and brown women. Biden’s infrastructure plan, surprisingly, could help undo some of the damage, but women—and the economy they’re such an important part of—need an even broader set of policy fixes, including equal pay legislation, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, anti-discrimination policies with real teeth that will get the attention of employers, and much more.
This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on March 24, 2021. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a contributing editor since December 2006. Clawson has been full-time staff since 2011, and is currently assistant managing editor at the Daily Kos.
It’s Oct. 29, and it’s Latina Equal Pay Day. That means that on this day, the typical Latina has been paid as much since Jan. 1, 2019 as the typical white man was paid between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019. That’s because Latinas are paid just 54 or 55 cents on the white man’s dollar overall.
It’s a particularly grievous injury in this year of the pandemic. “We may be valued less, but Latinas are among the pandemic’s most essential workers,” actor and activist America Ferrera writes. “When most Americans were told to stay safe at home, many Latinas didn’t have the luxury of protecting themselves and their families first. They were called to the front lines to protect other Americans; to do the work of caring for sick Americans in hospitals, working the fields to keep Americans fed, or supporting other families through domestic work. Even though the Latinx community makes up less than 20% of the U.S. population, we make up over 40% of workers in both the meatpacking and farming industries.”
But it’s not all about what industries Latinas work in. Latinas are also paid just 67 cents “relative,” the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) notes, “to non-Hispanic white men with the same level of education, age, and geographic location.” This is not just a pay disparity coming from differences in education or age, in other words, so don’t try to make that argument. In fact, “Latina doctors, many of whom are currently treating coronavirus patients, are paid 68% of the average hourly wage of non-Hispanic white male doctors (a difference of $20.46 per hour).”
Medicine isn’t the only industry of critical importance during the coronavirus pandemic in which Latinas are underpaid, EPI reports. It’s also true of restaurant wait staff, cashiers, child care workers, and elementary and middle school teachers.
There can be no serious argument that this isn’t about both sexism and racism.
This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on October 29, 2020. Reprinted with permission.
About the author: Laura Clawson is a staff writer on labor for Daily Kos.
The path toward economic recovery in the U.S. has become sharply divided, with wealthier Americans earning and saving at record levels while the poorest struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table.
The result is a splintered economic picture characterized by high highs — the stock market has hit record levels — and incongruous low lows: Nearly 30 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, and the jobless rate stands at 8.4 percent. And that dichotomy, economists fear, could obscure the need for an additional economic stimulus that most say is sorely needed.
The trend is on track to exacerbate dramatic wealth and income gaps in the U.S., where divides are already wider than any other nation in the G-7, a group of major developed countries. Spiraling inequality can also contribute to political and financial instability, fuel social unrest and extend any economic recession.
The growing divide could also have damaging implications for President Donald Trump’s reelection bid. Economic downturns historically have been harmful if not fatal for incumbent presidents, and Trump’s base of working-class, blue-collar voters in the Midwest are among the demographics hurting the most. The White House has worked to highlight a rapid economic recovery as a primary reason to reelect the president, but his support on the issue is slipping: Nearly 3 in 5 people say the economy is on the wrong track, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found.
Democrats are now seizing on what they see as an opportunity to hit the president on what had been one of his strongest reelection arguments.
“The economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under this failed presidency,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Friday. “No one thought they’d lose their job for good or see small businesses shut down en masse. But that kind of recovery requires leadership — leadership we didn’t have, and still don’t have.”
Recent economic data and surveys have laid bare the growing divide. Americans saved a stunning $3.2 trillion in July, the same month that more than 1 in 7 households with children told the U.S. Census Bureau they sometimes or often didn’t have enough food. More than a quarter of adults surveyed have reported paying down debt faster than usual, according to a new AP-NORC poll, while the same proportion said they have been unable to make rent or mortgage payments or pay a bill.
A historic House vote on marijuana legalization will take place later this month. We break down why Democrats are voting on the bill despite the fact that it’ll be dead upon arrival in the Senate.
And while the employment rate for high-wage workers has almost entirely recovered — by mid-July it was down just 1 percent from January — it remains down 15.4 percent for low-wage workers, according to Harvard’s Opportunity Insights economic tracker.
“What that’s created is this tale of two recessions,” said Beth Akers, a labor economist with the Manhattan Institute who worked on the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. “There are so obviously complete communities that have been almost entirely unscathed by Covid, while others are entirely devastated.”
Trump and his allies have seized on the strength of the stock market and positive growth in areas like manufacturing and retail sales as evidence of what they have been calling a “V-shaped recovery”: a sharp drop-off followed by rapid growth.
Some economists have begun to refer to the recovery as “K-shaped,” because while some households and communities have mostly recovered, others are continuing to struggle — or even seeing their situation deteriorate further.
“If you just look at the top of the K, it’s a V — but you can’t just look at what’s above water,” said Claudia Sahm, director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “There could be a whole iceberg underneath it that you’re going to plow into.”
The burden is falling heavily on the poorest Americans, who are more likely to be out of work and less likely to have savings to lean on to weather the crisis. While recessions are always hardest on the poor, the coronavirus downturn has amplified those effects because shutdowns and widespread closures have wiped out low-wage jobs in industries like leisure and hospitality.
Highly touted gains in the stock market, meanwhile, help only the wealthiest 10 percent or so of households, as most others own little or no stock.
The disconnect between the stock market and the broader economy has been stark. On the same day in late August that MGM Resorts announced it would be laying off a quarter of its workforce, throwing some 18,000 workers into unemployment, its stock price jumped more than 6 percent, reaching its highest closing price since the start of March.
“The haves and the have-nots, there’s always been a distinction,” Sahm said. But now, she added, “we are widening this in a way I don’t think people have really wrapped their head around.”
Without further stimulus, the situation appears poised to get worse. Economic growth until now had been led by increasing levels of consumer spending, buoyed by stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits that gave many people, including jobless workers, more money to spend.
Low-income consumers have led the way, and they spent slightly more in August than they did in January, according to the Opportunity Insights tracker — even as middle- and high-income consumers are still spending less.
But those low-income consumers were also the most dependent on the extra $600 per week in boosted unemployment benefits, which expired in July. Since that lapsed — and since Congress appears unlikely to extend it any time soon, if at all — “we’re likely to see other macroeconomic numbers really fall off a cliff in the coming weeks,” Akers said.
The expected drop in spending, paired with the expiration of economic relief initiatives like the Paycheck Protection Program, could also spell trouble for businesses in the coming months. Many economists expect a wave of bankruptcies and business closures in the fall, contributing to further layoffs.
In that sector, too, owners are feeling disparate impacts. More than 1 in 5 small business owners reported that sales are still 50 percent or less than where they were before the pandemic, according to a recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Business, and the same proportion say they will need to close their doors if current economic conditions do not improve within six months.
At the same time, however, half said they are nearly back to where they were before, and approximately 1 in 7 owners say they are doing better now than they were before the pandemic, the survey showed.
Those diverging narratives could be understating the need for further stimulus by smoothing over some of the deeper weaknesses in the labor market and the economy, experts say.
“This is a case where the averages tell a different story than the underlying data itself,” said Peter Atwater, an adjunct economics professor at William & Mary.
While Republicans appear to be embracing the idea of further “targeted” aid, they are also touting what Trump has called a “rocket-ship” economic recovery and emphasizing record-breaking growth while downplaying the record-breaking losses that preceded it.
“There’s no question the recovery has beat expectations,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, this week on a press call with reporters.
“People are in these bubbles,” Atwater said. “And if people aren’t leaving their homes, are not really getting out, it’s unlikely that they’re seeing the magnitude of the downside of this K-shaped recovery.”
This article originally appeared at Politico on September 7, 2020. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Megan Cassella is a trade reporter for POLITICO Pro. Before joining the trade team in June 2016, Megan worked for Reuters based out of Washington, covering the economy, domestic politics and the 2016 presidential campaign. It was in that role that she first began covering trade, including Donald Trump’s rise as the populist candidate vowing to renegotiate NAFTA and Hillary Clinton’s careful sidestep of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
A D.C.-area native, Megan headed south for a few years to earn her bachelor’s degree in business journalism and international politics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Now settled back inside the Beltway, Megan’s on the hunt for the city’s best Carolina BBQ — and still rooting for the Heels.
Black Women’s Equal Pay Day falls on August 13 this year. That’s the day when, starting on January 1, 2019, Black women have finally been paid what white men were paid in 2019 alone. Equal Pay Day, the day observing this marker for women overall in the U.S., fell on March 31 this year, while Latina Equal Pay Day won’t come until November.
It takes us this long to get to Black Women’s Equal Pay Day because Black women make just 62 cents for every dollar paid to white men, a gross disparity that will cost the average Black woman more than $20,000 a year and nearly $950,000 in her lifetime, and one that isn’t going away anytime soon. “Indeed, from 1967 to 2018, the most recent year for which data are available, the wage gap for Black women narrowed by just 19 cents,” the National Women’s Law Center’s Jasmine Tucker reports. The coronavirus crisis is not helping.
While Black women are disproportionately likely to hold essential jobs, “making up 11 percent of the front-line workforce despite only making up 6.3 percent of the workforce overall,” that doesn’t translate to equal pay. Black women within these essential occupations still make less than their white male counterparts (and white female counterparts, though the gap there is less). As always, education is no solution: “Black women doctors are paid 73% of the average hourly wage paid to non-Hispanic white male doctors (a difference of $16.82 per hour),” according to the Economic Policy Institute’s Valerie Wilson and Melat Kassa.
Even as Black women are a disproportionate and underpaid part of the essential workforce, some experts say the pandemic is likely to worsen inequality for Black women workers in particular. That shouldn’t be the way of it, but the centuries of oppression and inequality embedded in the pay gap—and the way too many Black women’s lives have been treated as basically disposable in the face of the danger of COVID-19—tell us that’s a likely outcome.
”We owe Black women so much more. Especially right now in the middle of this pandemic, the wage gap has robbed them of their ability to weather this storm,” the NWLC’s Tucker told USA Today’s Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy. “They don’t have the financial cushion, they don’t have any savings because we haven’t been paying them what we owe them. And that’s just straight earnings that doesn’t even account for if they were able to put any money away, if they were able to buy a house, the equity, the wealth that they could have built for themselves over that time.”
This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on August 13, 2020. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.
Starbucks bills itself as a good employer—and sometimes it lives up to that. But not all Starbucks locations are operated by Starbucks, and UNITE HERE has released a damning report on pervasive discrimination and harassment at 142 Starbucks locations operated by HMSHost in 27 airports. Median pay for black baristas is $1.85 less than for white baristas at these locations, and claims that it’s about tenure on the job don’t hold up. In Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, for instance, “There were three Black baristas with more seniority than one of the white baristas who made $2.50 an hour less than that white barista. Another white barista who had only 4 months more seniority than one of the Black baristas made $3.17 an hour more.”
In contrast to Starbucks’ image as an LGBTQ-friendly company, workers at the HMSHost Starbucks report widespread harassment, misgendering, and transphobia. LGBTQ workers aren’t the only ones facing harassment: “More than 1 in 4 immigrant workers surveyed at HMSHost Starbucks have been told to stop speaking their preferred language by managers at work.” Starbucks is failing these workers.
This article was originally published at Daily Kos on February 29, 2020. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.
November 20 was Latina Equal Pay Day. That means that’s when the average Latina caught up with what the average white man was paid between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018. And yes, it is nearly 2020. Latinas need to work nearly a full extra year to match the white man’s single year.
While women overall make 80 or 81 cents on the white man’s dollar, putting Equal Pay Day in April, and Black Women’s Equal Pay Day comes in late August since they make 61 cents on the dollar, for Latinas it’s 53 cents for every dollar a white man makes. White women make 77 cents, Asian American women make 85 cents, and Native American women make 58 cents.
“At every level of education, white non-Hispanic men are paid more than Hispanic women. What’s also clear from the data is that further education does not close their sizable wage gaps with white non-Hispanic men,” the Economic Policy Institute reports. “As Hispanic women increase their educational attainment, their pay gap with white men generally increases. The largest dollar gap (more than $18 an hour), occurs for workers with more than a college degree. Even Hispanic women with an advanced degree earn less than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree. That statistic bears repeating: white non-Hispanic men with only a college degree are paid, on average, $6.81 more than Latinas with an advanced degree!”
This article was originally published at Daily Kos on November 25, 2019. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor
Asian women have the smallest disparity, making a whopping 85 cents on the dollar, so their equal pay day comes in early March. White women come next, at 77 cents—their equal pay day is just a few days after the overall one, on April 19. For black women, it’s 61 cents, which is why we’re here in late August talking about equal pay, by which we mean how equal the pay isn’t. That gap adds up fast, Jocelyn Frye writes at the Center for American Progress, “amounting to $23,653 less in earnings over an entire year. In the span of a 40-year career, this translates into an average lifetime earnings gap of $946,120 between Black women and white men.” Black women face a massive gap no matter how much education they get—and they’re left with higher student loan debt than any other racial group.
When we talk about Equal Pay Day, we’re always talking about apples to apples—people who work full time and year round. And with black women, we’re talking about the group of women that has always worked outside the home at the highest rates, with a complicated and often viciously discriminatory history in which, Frye writes, “Black women frequently encounter a workplace narrative that deemphasizes the importance of their personal caregiving responsibilities or suggests that their caregiving roles should be secondary to their paid work.” Black women have long cared for white children for low wages while their caregiving role for their own children was shoved to the side, and black women remain disproportionately in occupations in which scheduling abuses and unpredictable weekly hours of work make life even more difficult than low wages alone would do.
Since Native American women earn 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes and Latina women earn 53 cents, their equal pay days won’t come until September 23 and November 20.
This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on August 22, 2019. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.
Since 1978, CEO pay has grown 1,007.5% by one measure and a mere 940.3% by another measure, the Economic Policy Institute reports. Average workers? Their pay has gone up just 11.9%. That’s not all, either. The increase in CEO pay has dramatically outstripped the increase for other very high earners, which is positively modest at 339.2%.
The numbers start to seem a little more manageable if you drill down to more recent years, but the inequality is still striking:
CEO compensation has grown 52.6% in the recovery since 2009 using the options-exercised measure and 29.4% using the options-granted measure. In contrast, the typical workers in these large firms saw their annual compensation grow by just 5.3% over the recovery and actually fall by 0.2% between 2017 and 2018.
EPI also finds in the data an indication that no, CEOs aren’t magical unicorns who are worth all that money on their own unique merit: “CEOs of large firms earned 5.4 times that of the average top 0.1% earner in 2017, up from 4.4 times in 2007. This is yet another indicator that CEO pay is more likely based on CEOs’ power to set their own pay, not on a market for talent.”
This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on August 20, 2019. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.
On Sunday, moments after the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated the Netherlands 2-0 to win its second consecutive World Cup title — its fourth championship overall — Fox cut to commercial, and a Nike advertisement aired.
The ad, shot in stylish black-and-white, was a take on U.S. Soccer’s “I believe that we will win” chant, which is commonly used by supporters of both the men’s and women’s national teams. Among other things, the commercial stated its belief that “a whole generation of girls and boys will go out and play and say things like, ‘I want to be like Megan Rapinoe when I grow up,’ and that they’ll be inspired to talk and win and stand up for themselves.”
It was moving, invigorating, and down-right inspirational.
It was also extremely frustrating.
Nike is a brand with a value upwards of $15 billion. And in 2019, it’s time for global brands like Nike to stop just using their power to promote these women as inspirations, and start using their power to get these women paid what they deserve.
Sure: Nike has done a lot for women’s soccer, and implying otherwise would be foolish. It sponsors several USWNT players, including Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh, Tobin Heath, and Megan Rapinoe. They are not only U.S. Soccer’s biggest partner, but they also have an ongoing deal with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as the league’s primary uniform, apparel, and equipment provider, as reported by The Equalizer.
And this gives Nike far more leverage in this fight, not less.
Sponsors have so much power in the sporting world: Leagues and television networks and players all need the sponsors in order to survive. So, what would happen if an organization as powerful as Nike insisted on pay equality? It’s hard to imagine the needle not moving in the right direction.
And as far as women’s soccer has come over the past couple of decades, that needle still has a long way to go. This year, USWNT players will get about $250,000 each for winning the World Cup and participating in the scheduled four-game Victory Tour in the United States. The U.S. men’s team would earn well over $1 million each for the same feat. A recent Guardian report showed there is a $730,000 per-player difference in the World Cup bonus structure between U.S. men’s and women’s teams.
Naturally, FIFA is the worst culprit of them all. The U.S. women won $4 million for winning the World Cup. Last year, the French men won $38 million when they took home the title. Overall, FIFA gives out $410 million more in prize money to men than women in the World Cup. While they have announced plans to increase the amount of prize money for future women’s World Cups, the gap will remain staggering for the foreseeable future.
That inequity makes FIFA’s patronizing “Dare to Shine” slogan down-right insufferable. These women are shining. They always have been shining. And now, they’ve used their light to expose the many ways the powers-that-be have been trying to hold them back.
Recently, some brands — clearly recognizing that it would get them public relations points — have taken the concept of inequality into their own hands. Earlier this year, after the USWNT announced it was suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, Adidas announced that it was paying its women soccer players the same performance bonuses as it would pay its men’s soccer players at the World Cup. Luna Bar also stepped up and announced it was going to pay each of the 23 women named to the 2019 USNWT World Cup team $31,250, which is the exact difference between the women’s and men’s World Cup roster bonus given by U.S. Soccer. On Sunday, Budweiser became the first official beer sponsor of the NWSL. And in Visa’s new deal with U.S. Soccer, it is mandating that more than 50 percent of its money go towards the women’s team.
Is all of this coming from a place of pure charity? Of course not. Investing in women is good business. Nike certainly knows this — last month, the USWNT World Cup jersey became the highest-selling jersey in the history of Nike.com, even beating out all of the men’s jerseys.
So, yes, it’s wonderful that Nike is releasing chill-inducing commercials celebrating these phenomenal athletes, and that it believes that “we will keep fighting not just to make history, but to change it forever.” But Nike and other mega sponsors don’t just have the power to promote these ideals; they have the power to implement them. Perhaps they should just do it.
This article was originally published in ThinkProgress on July 8, 2019. Reprinted with permission.
There are few frontiers anymore. Women are CEOs, brain surgeons, law partners and astronauts. Little girls have role models in nearly any occupation they want to pursue.
Yet the gender pay gap persists, even for women in high-paying professions. In fact, the pay gap is wider at the top than it is for “working class” women. And the gulf is growing. Did someone cancel the Equal Pay Act?
The gender gap is a canyon in top-earning professions
It’s not that some HR person decides to pay X amount to Joe and a lesser salary to Jane. The wage gap accrues over time in different and sometimes subtle ways. Gender bias in job postings, salary negotiations and performance reviews. The “father bonus” and “mommy penalty” for working parents. A lack of mentoring opportunities for women. And the Catch-22 of salary history.
Both anecdotally and statistically, the gender gap persists in nearly every field. But it is especially pronounced at the highest levels. Male corporate executives reap millions more in pay and perks. Male doctors earn substantially more than female counterparts in the same specialty. Likewise scientists, lawyers, engineers, computer programmers and financial advisers.
This is counter to the overall trend. In wage earner jobs, the pay gap still exists but it has steadily shrunk. Women of color have made the biggest gains. But at the top, the playing field remains uneven and apparently getting worse.
Is there really a pay gap?
Back in the 1960s, before the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women in American earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. The pay gap has shrunk considerably; women now earn 77 cents against the male dollar. In fact, detractors claim there is no wage gap at all. They contend women earn less because they choose lower-paying jobs, have less education or experience, work fewer hours, or voluntarily drop out of the workforce.
Some of those arguments are valid, but numerous studies show that a gender gap remains after accounting for all those factors. In other words, there is still a disparity that cannot be explained by non-discriminatory factors.
What about women in the federal workforce?
According to the General Accounting Office, the federal employee gender pay gap has also shrunk over the decades. Much of that decline is a shift from low-paying clerical work that was dominated by women to more sophisticated jobs requiring higher education and experience. But after controlling for other factors, the GAO says there is still an unexplained gender gap of about 7 percent. There is less gender disparity in lower end General Schedule jobs where starting pay scales are more rigid.
But, as with the private sector, there is still a notable gap at the top levels of federal employment. For example, women in GS 14, GS 15 and SES positions may earn less than male counterparts or predecessors even though they hold Ph.D.’s and the requisite experience. Those old biases that favor men pervade even the federal government.
What if you think you are being paid less in your government job?
Making a case for a raise or promotion is one thing. Proving gender discrimination is another. Have there been other indications of unequal treatment, such as derogatory comments, different assignments, or being pulled from certain accounts or assignments? Are male counterparts with lesser credentials advanced or paid more? Are there trends in how men and women in the department are treated? Does your manager consider salary history (a system which perpetuates the gender gap) in determining what you should be paid in your current job?
The employment law attorneys of Passman & Kaplan, P.C., focus almost exclusively on the rights of federal sector employees. We represented government workers up and down the strata and in every federal agency.
This blog was originally published by Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law on May 27, 2019. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Founded in 1990 by Edward H. Passman and Joseph V. Kaplan, Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law, is focused on protecting the rights of federal employees and promoting workplace fairness. The attorneys of Passman & Kaplan (Edward H. Passman, Joseph V. Kaplan, Adria S. Zeldin, Andrew J. Perlmutter, Johnathan P. Lloyd and Erik D. Snyder) represent federal employees before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other federal administrative agencies, and also represent employees in U.S. District and Appeals Courts.
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