INSIGHT: Equal Pay: Down But Not Out

December 06, 2018

I. Introduction

It has been fifty-five years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law. The landmark law was the first that required equal pay for women engaged in equal work. While progress clearly has been made over the years, the wage gap persists tothis day.

The latest research shows that, on average, women still earn twenty percent less than men. While it varies, the gender wage gap exists across the wage distribution and at all education levels, and the problem is exacerbated for women of color. While the debate rages as to whether the Equal Pay Act is an effective tool for closing the gender wage gap, states and local governments—in the absence of federal action—have taken it upon themselves to enact laws, regulations, and guidance to ensure that women are paid and treated equally in the workplace.

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