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In 50 Years, We've Made 18 Cents' Worth of Progress Toward Pay Equity for Women

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the House Floor today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) called on Congress to enact legislation to update the 1963 Equal Pay Act and guarantee pay equity for women in the workplace.

On average, women today make 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man for the same work. The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 377) would strengthen the law and close loopholes that haven’t been addressed in five decades. Congressman Yarmuth is an original cosponsor.

House Democrats approved the Paycheck Fairness Act in the 110th and 111th Congresses, but Senate Republicans blocked it. Now, Republicans have stalled the legislation in the House.

Click on the photo to watch the video. The text of Congressman Yarmuth’s remarks is below.

Mr. Speaker, when women succeed, our economy grows, our communities prosper, and our nation thrives. And yet, 50 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, some in Congress seem content to let the pay gap between men and women continue.

In 1963, when Congress enacted the Equal Pay Act, women earned 59 cents on average for every dollar a man took home. President Kennedy called that “unconscionable.” Meanwhile, about one in 10 mothers were their family’s primary breadwinners.

Five decades later, the number of female breadwinners has quadrupled. And yet women take home only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for the same job.

In 50 years, we’ve made 18 cents’ worth of progress. 

Congress hasn’t updated the Equal Pay Act since President Kennedy signed it into law. The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen that law, adapt to a much different American workplace than what we had in the 1960s, and put us back on a pathway to pay equity in the workforce.

Equal pay isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s a family issue. It’s an economic issue. It’s a community issue. And it’s also an issue that Congress has ignored.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support the Paycheck Fairness Act and help guarantee equal pay for equal work.