He spoke at the Orlando campus of Valencia College, a two-year
institution that has been recognized for placing students in jobs
and sending them on for higher degrees. Many of the students at
Valencia are older and are returning to school fort training that
will lead to higher-paying work.
Women are "facing unfair choices or outdated workplace policies that
hold all of us back, and that has to change," the president said.
The White House plans similar events in Denver, Boston, Chicago, San
Francisco, and New York. The administration says the meetings will
lead to a short list of actions the president can take by executive
order, push Congress to act on, or launch with business
collaboration. The measures would all be aimed at making it easier
for women to find good jobs and be paid at levels that match those
of their male counterparts.
"The president has a range of tools and he wants to figure out which
are the right ones," White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told
The White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report last
week saying that although more women are earning higher educational
degrees and filling a wider range of jobs than in the past, they
continue to earn less than men. Full-time female workers make 77
cents for every dollar earned by men, the CEA said.
As part of efforts to spur gender pay equity, the Small Business
Administration will hold a conference to identify ways to get more
women trained and start careers in science, technology, engineering
and mathematics, professions with higher salaries.
"To improve earnings, we need to get women in higher paying
occupations," said Betsey Stevenson, a member of the CEA.
[to top of second column]
Obama urged Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour
from $7.25, a proposal that faces strong opposition from many
Republicans. The White House says the increase is particularly
important for women, who constitute a large share of the minimum
Women have been steady supporters of the president and of Democrats,
and Obama wants to rally support among voters to prevent the
Republicans from winning control of the Senate in November
At a fundraiser later at the Miami home of former basketball
all-star Alonzo Mourning, Obama warned Democrats that failure to
turn out and vote in November congressional elections could get them
"The problem is not that the American people don't agree with us,"
he said. "Politics have gotten so toxic."
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Peter
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.