Jacqueline A. Berrien, Chair
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Today is Equal Pay Day, which is the annual recognition of the date on which a woman’s average earnings equal a man’s average earnings in the prior year. Despite almost 50 years of enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, wage disparities between men and women have not yet been eliminated.
When President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, he said that it “affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force, they will find equality in their pay envelope.” At that time, women accounted for less than 35% of the labor force and their median pay was approximately 58.9% of men’s.
Today, women are nearly half of the workforce, and their wages have risen to roughly 78% of those of men. While the pay gap has narrowed, it persists for every age group and in every job category, including those dominated by women. This is true whether women hold advanced degrees or a high school diploma. The gap is particularly severe for women of color: African-American women receive 61 cents and Hispanic or Latina women earn just 52 cents for every dollar earned by men.
For nearly 50 years, the EEOC has been at the forefront of the federal government’s effort to secure equal pay for women. As part of the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force created by President Obama, the Commission has undertaken important efforts to raise awareness and strengthen enforcement of wage discrimination laws in the past year:
The EEOC’s mission is ending and remedying unlawful discrimination. That is why, although we commemorate Equal Pay Day today, we must work diligently every day to ensure that earnings are never depressed because of a worker or job applicant’s sex.