Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) marked Equal Pay Day by calling for more to be done to close the wage gap that still exists between women and men in America.
"While we have achieved progress since President Kennedy first brought the issue of equal pay to the forefront in 1963, it is obvious that we must do more," Yarmuth said on Equal Pay Day, which marks the anniversary of President Kennedy's Equal Pay Act. "Women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar of their male counterparts, resulting in an average loss of pay of $389,000 over the course of a woman's career.
"Fair pay is a basic right that improves our entire workforce, strengthens American families, and grows our economy," Yarmuth said.
Women are the breadwinners in a growing number of American households, and women's wages are increasingly essential to family income. In typical married households, women's incomes accounted for 36 percent of total family income in 2008, up from 29 percent in 1983. Since1963, the wage gap between women and men working full-time and year-round has narrowed by less than half a cent per year.
Achieving equal pay for women has been a top priority for Yarmuth and Congressional Democrats. In January 2009, the Democratic-led 111th Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which became the first bill President Obama signed into law.
The law, which Yarmuth cosponsored, makes it easier for women to recover wages lost to discrimination by extending the time in which a worker can file a claim. The legislation also sent a clear signal that those who discriminate in the workplace will be held accountable.
Yarmuth is also an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1519), which would increase penalties for employers who discriminate against women in wages. The legislation is currently stalled in the Republican-led House.
Republican leadership continues to target programs that benefit working families. They are pursuing dramatic cuts to education and job-training programs, which remove barriers many women face in the workplace. And they have sought cuts to childcare programs and early education programs, on which many parents who are part of the workforce depend.
"Women already face a pay gap in the workplace," Yarmuth said. "Instead of helping to close that gap, Republican leadership is trying to cut nearly every federal program that helps women gain equality in the workplace."