The Washington Post

The Paycheck Fairness bill failed in the Senate today. It wouldn’t have eliminated the wage gap anyway.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness bill, the third time the legislation has fallen short on votes.

While today's vote tally -- which broke down along party lines, with not a single Republican senator voting in favor of the bill -- was not unexpected, it came after weeks of a heavy messaging push from Democrats. Had it passed, the bill would have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against a worker who inquires about or discloses her or his wages or the wages of another employee in a complaint or investigation. It also would make employers liable to civil actions Those changes, Democrats argued, would make it easier for women suing for wages equal to their male colleagues. (Worth noting: One of the main pillars of that argument -- that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns -- got two Pinocchios from our Fact Checker.)

Now, as members of Congress prepare to depart for a two-week recess, Democrats will head to their states and districts and declare loudly that the GOP has stood in the way of winning equal pay for equal work for women. But, even if the bill had passed the Senate, and then the House, there is no way that it would have ended inequity in wage -- or come even close. This chart from the Pew Research Center below shows us why.


And here's the explanation of why not from Pew's analysts:

Our estimate, which is based on hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers, finds women earn 84 percent of what men earn. Based on our estimate, it would take approximately 40 days, or until the end of February for women to earn what men had by the end of last year.

But for young women, the wage gap is even smaller – at 93 percent – meaning they caught up to their same-aged male counterparts by roughly the last week in January of this year.

As our video explains, the estimated 16-cent pay gap today has narrowed from 36 cents in 1980. Back then, the average woman would have had to work approximately 90 days, roughly into the beginning of May, in order to catch up with men’s earnings from the year before.

While the gender gap has narrowed significantly since the 1970s and 1980s, women surveyed by Pew were more likely to say they had taken career interruptions in order to care for their family. Career interruptions, research shows, have a major impact on long-term earnings.

All in all, fixing the gap between what men and women make in wages is far more complicated than a congressional bill.

If you've got five minutes, you should definitely check out the video below, which Pew released along with their analysis of pay inequality Tuesday.

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
What can babies teach students?
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Play Videos
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Is fencing the answer to brain health?
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
How a hacker group came to Washington
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
How hackers can control your car from miles away
Play Videos
Philadelphia's real signature sandwich
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained
Next Story
Chris Cillizza · April 9, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.