April 8, 2014

Reflecting on Equal Pay Day

By Cindy Ivanac-Lillig

President Kennedy signed Equal Pay Day into law in 1963. It marks the date when the average woman has worked enough days to earn what the average man earned in the previous year. An American woman, on average, had to work all of 2013 plus January thru April 8, 2014 to earn what an average man earned in 2013.

The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have some interesting resources on the topic. According to the BLS, women earned 81 percent of the (median) wages of their male counterparts in full-time wage and salary positions. When the data was first collected, 35 years ago, women earned 62 percent of the wages of their male counterparts. While there has clearly been progress, the last decade has seen this ratio stagnate between 80 to 82 percent. The level of education, age and ethnicity seem to matter a fair amount based on the BLS data. Overall, it is safe to say that the disparity is very noticeable for women over 35 years of age and married.

BLS also has an interesting breakdown by states; however they warn that comparing state data is very difficult as there can be significant differences in occupations and industries. With this caveat, check out the state section of the report Chicago District (Midwest) report.

Let me know what you think.

If you are a teacher, let me know if this is something that you think can be leveraged to teach more about labor economics in your classroom.

Posted by Cindy at 5:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 13, 2014

Economics & Valentine’s Day

By Cindy Ivanac-Lillig

One of this blog’s objectives is to bring the most un-economic subjects into the realm of economics. My hope is that this will entice folks to further study the “dismal” science. Today, Valentine’s Day is my target!

The economic implications of who we date and marry seem pretty obvious on a micro level. If you fall in love with someone that earns a lot of money, it is clear that your joint economic situation will probably be comfortable and vice-versa. By the way, I am in no way advocating one situation over the other.

However, it also seems that there are macro-economic implications to these decisions as well. Joanne Weiner writes in a recent Washington Post blog:

“Marriage is one of the unexpected causes of the growing income gap. Research from a team of international economists led by Jeremy Greenwood at the University of Pennsylvania found that a common measure of income inequality (known as the Gini index) is about 30 percent higher than it would otherwise be if better-educated people randomly married other people instead of marrying people with similar levels of education.

What this means is that income inequality has grown worse over time partly because highly-educated people are marrying other highly-educated people…”
This phenomenon is probably just a symptom of wealth concentration and not a cause, but either way, it is fun to think about what it may mean in terms of policy rationale. For example, there are many worthwhile initiatives aimed at having a greater proportion of low income students attend and graduate college. The scientific, well-documented argument is that this will enhance their skill set which will in turn improve their life-long earning potential. This is true, but how about if another reason is simply that they would be sitting in class on Valentine’s Day and may find their future partner there. This partner will likely make more money than someone they may have met in their community given that this future mate is on his/her way to graduating college. And again, money isn’t everything, but household income is still one of the most reliable variables to measure standard of living and overall economic well-being.

Economic textbooks would be so much more interesting if they taught about a Dating Possibilities Frontier as opposed to the Production Possibilities Frontier!

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day and a right shift of your Dating Possibilities Frontier (sorry to my married readers – you have already maximized your utils)! Check out #Fedvalentines on Twitter. They have been quite entertaining in the past.

Posted by Cindy at 6:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 31, 2013

FOMC Infographic & 2014 Calendar... Happy New Year!

Check out our new infographic. It aims to give you a sense of the overall institutional framework around our national monetary policymaking body -- the FOMC. Hopefully, it helps make more sense of it all, most especially the unique voting structure. And for my avid FOMC followers, it has a handy-dandy calendar as well, indicating the dates the committee is tentatively scheduled to meet in 2014.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy new year!

Please note: the image was updated to reflect a change in color and rotational details on 01/02/2014

Posted by Cindy at 7:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)