– An effort to determine whether or not the state’s pay equity laws are effective is one step closer to fruition, after the House today passed legislation to initiate a state government study, said Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th), author of the resolution.
House Resolution 75
, which now heads to the Senate for consideration, would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study the issue of workplace pay disparity, to re-examine existing federal and state laws regarding pay equity, and to make any necessary recommendations.
“When I first began researching this issue, I was struck by how common the disparities are among women who have the same education, training and skills as their male counterparts,” Watson said. “Even more startling to me were the statistics that this pay gap stretches across all types of employment – hourly service positions, mid-level managers and highly educated professionals like veterinarians. That is why it is incumbent upon us to look at the laws, which were enacted more than a generation ago, to see if they are working as they were intended.”
Watson noted that the issue of pay equity does not just involve a woman’s current wage or salary, but it also follows her throughout her life, as pension and Social Security benefits are based on pay earned while working.
According to the 2013 Census Bureau data, women statewide average 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, and a study by the American Association of University Women found that among people hired in their first year after college, women in 2009 were paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men.
In Pennsylvania in 2013, the median pay for a woman working full time, year round, was $38,368 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man was $50,231, a yearly gap of $11,683 between full-time working men and full-time working women. These statistics are based on the comparisons between men and women with the same education, credentialing and experience.
The state’s Equal Pay Law, enacted in 1959, provided a foundation for Pennsylvania women seeking opportunities in the workplace. The goal is fair compensation for all workers without wage discrimination. Other laws to be examined by the study include the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“The timing of this resolution’s passage couldn’t be more appropriate, as March is designated around the country and in Pennsylvania as Women’s History Month, and we are moving closer to the annual Pay Equity Day in April – which is the date in which women’s wages finally catch up with men’s from the previous calendar year,” Watson said. “It is important to emphasize that this legislation merely looks at the effectiveness of our laws with recommendations, if needed, for additional legislative action.”
A similar resolution passed the House last session but didn’t clear the state Senate.
Representative Kathy Watson
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton