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.