Rodriguez for Congress campaign
Wage Gap

Send a link to a friend  Share

[September 10, 2016]  Rodriguez Sees Multifaceted Remedies to Addressing the Wage Gap - Labor Day presents the perfect time for focusing upon one of the more persistent problems that plagues the labor market—the gender-based wage gap.

On average women earn less than men, but the causes of this problem are multifaceted and extend far beyond the casual assumption that wage inequality for equitable work is the key culprit. In fact, federal law has prohibited employers from gender-based wage discrimination since passage of the Equal Pay Act (1963) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964), and this was reinforced in 2009 with the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That the wage gap has persisted through the years is evidence that systemic and institutional factors are at play that contribute to this problem.

Since women constitute nearly two-thirds of workers who are employed at minimum wage jobs, an effort to raise the minimum wage is one of the means that can be used to address the wage gap. The purchasing power of the minimum wage (adjusted for inflation) has been erratic through the years, and the relative value of a minimum wage salary has declined by nearly 20 percent since the last hike in minimum wage occurred back in 2009. I would like to see the federal government implement a three-year tiered plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2019. Individual states and cities would retain the right to use a minimum wage that his higher than the federal standard, but this adjustment would significantly raise the threshold so that wage gap differences would be lessened.

The federal minimum wage for tipped labor, which stands at $2.13 per hour, has not been raised in the past fifteen years. Since women also constitute the vast majority of American workers who are employed as tipped laborers, an increase in the tipped minimum wage would also have an impact upon efforts to remedy the wage gap. I believe that the federal minimum tipped wage should ultimately be $5.05 (half of the newly proposed minimum wage) to be achieved on a three-year tiered plan of increase. These two initiatives would go a long way in helping to remedy much of the wage differences that account for the wage gap.

[to top of second column]

Other factors that must be considered if we hope to address the wage gap are the levels of support that we find at the state and federal levels to help provide safe and affordable child care for working women as well as substantial investment in early childhood education programs. All too often women who labor among the so-called “working poor” must make the choice of whether or not they can work due to the financial constraints that child care costs provide. Frequently reliance on family to provide such services, or other less than ideal circumstances, is used as a stopgap measure, but interruptions in such arrangements makes it difficult for one to sustain employment for an extended period of time.

We often consider the circumstances of the wage gap as a stand-alone story that is secondary to other public policy concerns, but we must use a more holistic approach to recognize the severity of this issue and summon the means to address it. The wage gap has a direct correlation to poverty in the United States, and by curious circumstance women and children are those who fall victim to poverty more often than not. In addition, among many poor and single-parent families women are the primary breadwinners, wo wage barriers merely perpetuate the cycle of poverty for many. Although the policy initiatives that are outlined here may not be the ultimate systemic solution that will remedy the wage gap, they certainly will move us closer to a more equitable wage differential in American society.

Past related articles

[Text from file received]

< Recent articles

Back to top