Equal pay for women isn’t just fair—it’s a game changer for the economy. Here’s why.

Women shouldn’t make less than men in 2016. Period.

Equal pay for women isn’t just fair—it’s a game changer for the economy. Here’s why.

Women shouldn’t make less than men in 2016. Period.

More women than ever are supporting their families, but on the whole we still get paid less than men.

And yet some Republicans deny it’s a problem, or that a pay gap exists at all. Here’s why they’re wrong.

Do women really make less than men? 

Yes. In 2014, women working full time, year-round had median earnings of $40,797—just 79 percent of what the median man made ($51,456). By that math, women have to work more than 60 extra days on average just to catch up to their male counterparts.

Source: The U.S. Census Bureau
Source: The U.S. Census Bureau

It gets worse. Women of color often lose out even more.

*Based on median annual earnings of full time, year-round workers, age 16 and over
*Based on median annual earnings of full time, year-round workers, age 16 and over

So, what causes the wage gap?

There are a lot of reasons for the gap, including the types of work women and men typically do. Women dominate fields like teaching and clerical work, which tend to pay less than male-dominated fields. Women are also the majority of low-wage and minimum-wage workers.

But there’s a lot more to the story. 

Even within the same jobs, women often earn less than men. Last year, Hillary met a young man who told her that when he was 17, he had landed his first job as a cashier, working side-by-side with his mom. When he brought home his first paycheck, he discovered he was making a dollar more an hour after one week than his mom was making after doing the same job for four years. 

Stories like this are all too common. In some cases, they’re about discrimination. But there are other, more subtle factors. Culture and gender norms influence what women study in school, the opportunities that are open to them, and how responsibilities at home affect their careers. And they’re more likely than men to be hindered by outdated workplace policies.

How does the gender wage gap impact women?

Women are the primary or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of households with children under 18. When they make less than men, their families pay a price. In fact, research shows that if unmarried women with kids made as much as men, the poverty rate for their families would fall by almost half.  

And when women lose out, our economy loses out, too.

Hillary for America

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research

This is awful. What can we do about it?

The good news is that we can shrink the gender pay gap by addressing some of the root causes. That’s why Hillary is fighting to: 

1. Raise the minimum wage.

Women make up two-thirds of minimum wage and tipped workers—and nearly a quarter of these workers are women of color. A woman currently working full time, year round at the federal minimum wage will earn $14,500 annually, which is far below the poverty line for a mother with two children. Raising the minimum wage would help millions of families make ends meet, and go a long way toward closing the gender wage gap.

2. Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

It’s tough for workers to fight discrimination if they don’t know they’re being paid unfairly. The Paycheck Fairness Act would allow millions of workers to discuss their compensation without the fear of losing their jobs or facing retaliation. It would also boost penalties for employers that violate equal pay laws.

3. Guarantee paid family and medical leave for every worker in America.

The U.S. is currently the only country in the developed world without guaranteed paid leave of any kind. A whopping 25 percent of women surveyed by the Department of Labor reported going back to work within two weeks of having a baby because they have no paid leave. Others take unpaid time time off, resulting not only in the loss of a paycheck—but also in lower earnings in the future. Paid leave would help families—and especially women—get ahead.

4. Ensure all parents have access to quality, affordable child care.

Women are often held back from entering or advancing in the workforce because of the cost of childcare—which has shot up nearly 25 percent over the past decade. In many states, it’s even higher than the average cost of college tuition. By investing in national child care, we can help women and men juggle work and parenting responsibilities.

These policies wouldn’t just go a long way toward achieving equal pay—they’d also lift families out of poverty and let businesses to attract and retain top talent, a win-win for our economy.

Here’s the bottom line. All people — men and women — should be able to dream big dreams and then follow them wherever they lead. So this Equal Pay Day, let’s recommit to doing our part to make America a more equitable place.

Hillary, April 12, 2016

Read more about how Hillary plans to protect women’s rights and opportunities. 

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