The Fallacy of a “Wage Gap”

April 4, 2017

Is there equal pay for equal work in the United States? Yes, for more than fifty years, the Equal Pay Act (1963), administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has enforced “equal pay for equal work” and sex discrimination in compensation is illegal.

So why is there an alleged “wage gap” in earnings between men and women? Because Americans are individuals who can make free choices about the type of work they do and how much they want to work. A national statistic that women earn “78 cents” for every dollar that a man earns is meaningless for individual workers. Federal Law prohibits employers from paying women less than men for equal work.
 
Individual women make individual choices in the workforce:

  1. Many women choose to take time off from the labor force in order to raise a family.
  2. Many women choose to work fewer hours per week to allow time for other activities.
  3. Many women choose less intense careers.
  4. Many women prefer jobs with flexible work schedules. Any job with a flexible work schedule will likely be a lower-paying job.

Should the Federal Government mandate equal pay for UNequal work? Feminists have advocated a “Paycheck Fairness Act,” which would mandate a federal bureaucracy whose purpose is to artificially inflate wages in female dominated fields, while artificially freezing wages in predominately male fields.
 
The free market economy is the best system for equality of economic opportunity. A free market embraces competition and reward, which combine to produce incentive and excellence. Our economy will suffer if the government tries to inject itself further across all job sectors under the guise of “equality” — the result will only be more inequality Americans should be able to choose the kind of job that they want to work, and employers need to be able to hire whom they choose while observing the anti-discrimination regulations that are already in place. 
 
Would the so-called Equal Rights Amendment close the “wage gap”? No. ERA does not add anything to the Equal Pay Act. But ERA would mandate that Congress enforce “sex equality,” which could mean burdensome regulations to business that already pay employees fairly. Americans have equality of opportunity, but government-enforced equality of outcome would diminish individual freedom and result in government control over all aspects of economic and personal life.
 
In fact, ERA could remove protections women currently enjoy in the workplace. For example, since ERA would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, laws requiring accommodations for nursing mothers would be invalidated, along with other similar laws designed to benefit working mothers. ERA has been legally dead for 38 years. The feminists, who are always behind the times, continue to prey on uninformed legislators to revive it. ERA is both unnecessary and unwise.
 
Paid family leave is often cited as a solution to the “wage gap”; that is, paying employees not to be employed as they (usually women) take care of their children or family members. Who covers the added costs as employers would then pay two employees for one job? Such requirements could create a disincentive to hiring women altogether. 
 
In using a disingenuous statistic, feminists are complaining about a problem that does not exist and offering a solution that would only cause problems and harm the most vulnerable women of all, lower and middle-class women. The “wage gap” is a fiction. The last thing Americans want is more government meddling in individual freedoms.