by Caroline May
President Obama commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act Monday at the White House standing before a backdrop of smiling women.
“The day that the bill was signed into law, women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man earned on average. Today, it’s about 77 cents. So it was 59 and now it’s 77 cents. It’s even less, by the way, if you’re an African American or a Latina. So I guess that’s progress, but does anybody here think that’s good enough?” he asked to a resounding “no!” from the audience.
“I assume everybody thinks we can do better,” he added.
Obama’s White House however has not done that much better.
An analysis of the Obama administration’s “2012 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff,” conducted by The Daily Caller, revealed that women staffers earn a median salary 13 percent less than their male counterparts in Obama’s White House.
The 2012 number represented an improvement over the wage gap in the 2011 White House salary report — according to an analysis from the Washington Free Beacon, in 2011 women earned a median salary 18 percent less than men in Obama’s White House.
The trend of paying women less than men was also apparent in Obama’s Senate office. According to a 2008 analysis of salary data posted at LegiStorm by Scripps Howard syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock, women staffers in Obama’s Senate office earned 83 cents for every dollar Obama’s male staffers made.
“You wouldn’t like it if you were forced to work every fourth day without pay. Men would be complaining about that. They wouldn’t think that was equal or fair,” Obama said Monday of the current wage gap of 77 cents on the dollar. ”So this is the 21st century. It’s time to close that gap.”
Indeed, Obama’s wage gap record is better than the national 77 cents on the dollar — an average, which does not account for variables such as benefits.
“[T]he statistic doesn’t take into account the exact number of hours worked… or the educational attainment of different workers, their career field, their vacation time, their other forms of compensation (including benefits), or their number of years of experience,” Hadley Heath, a senior policy analyst at the conservative-leaning Independent Women’s Forum noted Monday.
In his speech Monday, Obama did not broach such topics of variables, instead speaking of efforts to close the wage gap, including signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, creating the White House Council on Women and Girls, establishing the National Equal Pay Task Force, and pushing for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
“But as long as this gap persists, we’re going to have more work to do. And now is the time to keep up the work that all those trailblazers started 50 years ago,” Obama said.
“Now is the time to make sure businesses offer men and women the flexibility to be good employees and good parents,” he added, going on to tell the “CEOs who are out there, if you want a first-class company that is tapping into the talents and resources of all your employees, make sure that you’re putting in place systems so that they all feel like they’re being treated fairly and equally. It’s a simple principle and it’s a powerful one.”