Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ceterius Paribus, Equal Pay Day Falls in January

Today is Equal Pay Day, the date that is supposed to symbolize how far into 2010 the average woman would have to work to earn the same income that the average man earned in 2009—see Christina Sommers’s excellent article in The American, “The Equal Pay Day Reality Check.” Here's the Presidential Proclamation, and here's the statement from Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and here's an editorial from Diana Furchgott-Roth.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s (BLS) most recent annual report, “
Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2008,” women who worked full-time in 2008 had median earnings of $638 per week, or about 80 percent of the $798 median weekly earnings for men working full-time.

But for single workers who have never been married, the BLS reports that women made 94.2 percent as much money as their male counterparts in 2008. Equal Pay Day would fall on January 22 for these single females, almost three months earlier than the official, unadjusted Equal Pay Day of April 20 for all women. For a separate BLS category of single workers, those with “no children under 18 years old and whose marital status includes never married, divorced, separated and widowed,” women earned 95.6 percent as much as their male counterparts in 2008. Equal Pay Day for that group of single female workers would fall even earlier, on January 19, only a few weeks into the year.

While the Equal Pay Day advocates emphasize gender discrimination as the most important source of wage differentials, the reality is that most of the wage gap can be explained by life choices that involve family considerations, work hours, and career choices. The BLS data highlighted above show that simply controlling for marriage and children explains more than 70 percent of the unadjusted wage gap. Other factors could easily account for the rest.

Some other issues to consider on Equal Pay Day:

1. On average, men work 5.6 more hours per week than women—the equivalent of seven additional weeks of full-time work per year (see chart above). That would put “Equal Work Day” at the end of February, symbolizing how far the average women would have to work into 2010 to equal the same number of hours that the average man worked in 2009.

2. The unemployment rate for men has been greater than the jobless rate for women for the last 40 months, and job losses during the depth of the last recession were four times greater for men.

3. There were 1,277 male occupational fatalities in 2008 for every 100 female work-related deaths, a ratio of almost 13:1.

An important question then for women on Equal Pay Day: Would perfect labor market equality really be worth it if it meant working 280 more hours per year, having a much greater chance of being unemployed during recessions, and being significantly more exposed to work-related injury and death?

Cross-posted today on the
Enterprise blog.

6 Comments:

At 4/20/2010 3:07 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

What about the bumper sticker: "Driver carries no cash, he's married."

 
At 4/20/2010 4:10 PM, Anonymous Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

Excellent data showing the difference in hours worked. Even though you showed that the average man works more hours, you did not adjust these numbers for the fact that men work more overtime which gets paid at 1.5X. If the difference in hours worked is strictly due to men working 5.6 hours more overtime, this alone would account for the pay difference:

5.6*1.5 = 8.4.
8.4/36 = 23.3% pay difference.

 
At 4/20/2010 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good bye traditional family life with a mum at home with the kids and dad at work

 
At 4/20/2010 8:20 PM, Blogger OA said...

At my last employer, the general pattern was, first child did not change work hours or career path.

But after the second child, women tended to reduce hours, cut travel, change the types of projects they worked on, or even quit to go to lower demand workplaces. Men wouldn't generally change anything, other than adding a picture of their second child to their desk.

Things like that probably don't cover all the difference, but it has to explain a lot.

 
At 4/21/2010 1:54 AM, Blogger randian said...

Would perfect labor market equality really be worth it if it meant working 280 more hours per year, having a much greater chance of being unemployed during recessions, and being significantly more exposed to work-related injury and death?

It would be sexist to subject women to work-related risks. Just ask any feminist.

 
At 4/24/2010 10:04 PM, Anonymous Jerry Vandesic said...

On average, men work 5.6 more hours per week than women—the equivalent of seven additional weeks of full-time work per year ... That would put “Equal Work Day” at the end of February ...

This assumes that there is a linear relationship between hours worked and pay. Instead, it wouldn't surprise me if there was a non-linear relationship between the two, with people working more hours receiving a disproportionate pay rate. In every job I have ever had, those that put in longer hours tended to advance further in terms of pay and promotion opportunities.

 

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