Barack Obama, while speaking in Albuquerque, NM, repeated an oft-cited total myth, but still used by "good" progressives everywhere:
It starts with equal pay. 62 percent of working women in America earn half - or more than half - of their family's income. But women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. In 2008, you'd think that Washington would be united in its determination to fight for equal pay. That's why I was proud to co-sponsor the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which would have reversed last year's Supreme Court decision, which made it more difficult for women to challenge pay discrimination on the job.
Obama goes on to criticize John McCain's view of that SCOTUS decision, saying that he "suggested that the reason women don't have equal pay isn't discrimination on the job - it's because they need more education and training. That's just totally wrong." It is?
That "77 cents to the dollar" (or whatever the figure du jour is) canard is meant to convey the belief -- MYTH, actually -- that women are being discriminated against by those nasty 'ol males in the workplace. Obama buys this hooey, and backs [unnecessary] legislation to "undue" it. But here's the deal:
The 74 (77 now, according to Obama) percent figure is derived by comparing the average median wage of all full-time working men and women. To obtain figures for individual states, average wages of men and women within that state are compared. So older workers are compared to younger, social workers to police officers, and, since full-time means any number of hours above 35 a week (and sometimes fewer), those working 60-hour weeks are compared with those working 35-hour weeks. These estimates fail to consider key factors in determining wages, including education, age, experience, and, perhaps most importantly, consecutive years in the workforce.
But this average wage gap, as it is known, says nothing about whether individuals with the same qualifications who are in the same jobs are discriminated against.
How much less do equally-qualified women make? Surprisingly, given all the misused statistics to the contrary, they make about the same. Economists have long known that the adjusted wage gap between men and women--the difference in wages adjusted for occupation, age, experience, education, and time in the workforce--is far smaller than the average wage gap.
The wage gap shrinks dramatically when multiple factors are considered. Women with similar levels of education and experience earn as much as their male counterparts. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, economics professor June O'Neill found that, among people ages twenty-seven to thirty-three who have never had a child, women's earnings are close to 98 percent of men's.
In other words, this "average wage gap" of which Obama speaks is mostly due to the life and employment choices that women make. Women choose to exit the workforce for a time to have children. Women tend to choose lower paying jobs (like teaching, ahem) as a whole than men. And so on. But when men and women of similar education and experience and job type are compared, the "gap" is about a mere two percent as noted above.
Is that 2% of a concern? Well, sure, but discrimination doesn't account for all of that remaining figure, only a portion of it. In other words, it could account for less than one percent of the actual wage gap between men and women. Which sort of makes Obama's criticism of that mentioned SCOTUS decision sorta silly, doesn't it?
Such a figure is just too tiny, eh Mr. Obama? But you can't get the electorate juiced about "discrimination against women" using "less than one percent," eh?