Why is his paycheck bigger?

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What you need to know about equal pay and how the election could promote pay change

Story and audio interview below


Two people do the same job—one of them is a woman. the other a man. Wage earnings differ greatly depending on gender in the United States.

Women in the United States are not compensated equally compared to men for their time on the job, earning, on average, only 80 percent of their male counterparts’ wage.

“The ratio between men and women’s earnings was stuck at about 59 percent in the 1960s and 1970s,” Michigan State University economics and politics expert Charles Ballard said. “But then it increased rapidly in the 1980s and more slowly since then.”

In recent years, the earning gap has closed slightly, according to Ballard.

“In 2015, the ratio got to within rounding error of 80 percent, which is the highest it has ever been,” Ballard said. “That’s also the second year in a row, and the third in four years, in which the ratio has reached an all-time high.”

In November, Americans will elect a new president. Between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton, who is more likely to make equal pay a priority?

“I expect the ratio to continue to inch upward, regardless of who is elected president,” Ballard said. “Clearly, Hillary Clinton is more attuned to women’s issues than Donald Trump and it’s possible that the earnings gap would close a bit faster under Clinton’s leadership. However, most of the changes are due to changes in women’s education, in their choices of occupation, and in their attachment to the labor force. Those things are the result of the decisions of millions of individual women.”

Equal pay varies between genders, occupations, education levels and more.


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