SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

April 14, 2014

Armerding: Obama's equal pay exaggeration

(Continued)

That means women working in the White House made 88 cents for every dollar male staffers made — not a whole lot better than the president’s claim that women in the American workforce, on average, make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, which he called an “embarrassment.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney complained that the raw statistic about the White House was misleading because it included the salaries of all staff members, including those at the lowest levels, where women outnumber men.

Well, yes, Jay, of course it is misleading. But that is the point; the president has used the same misleading method to declare that gender inequity in pay is a national embarrassment. So, what you’re really saying is that you want the president to get a pass, but everybody else to get sued.

Indeed, the Paycheck Fairness Act should be subtitled The Trial Lawyers’ Full-Employment Act. It will add layers of regulation and paperwork to already overburdened businesses, and increase litigation over pay — none of which will help the employment or salary prospects of women or men.

Yes, some gender pay disparity exists. But more sober economists on all sides say the divide is really more like 5 to 10 cents, when factors like the one Carney cited are included.

Other factors are that men tend to work more than 40 hours per week while women tend to work 35 to 39 hours, yet all those jobs are still considered full-time; women are more likely to drop out of the workforce temporarily to have children, meaning they have fewer years of experience when they return; mothers tend to seek jobs where they are willing to forgo a higher salary in exchange for more flexible hours; women tend to choose vocations that offer lower pay in the labor market; and more men are likely to pursue high-risk occupations that pay more because of that risk.

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