Week in Review
The Democrats are running out of ways to buy votes. Which they desperately need as more people suffer the ravages of Obamacare. Who will be entering the voting booth angry this fall. Looking for someone to blame for taking away the health insurance and doctors they liked and wanted to keep. And being that Obamacare was passed on purely partisan lines (no Republicans voted for it) the Democrats are sweating bullets as the midterm elections approach. So they turn to an oldie but goldie. The pay gap lie (see What pay gap? Young women out-earn men in cities, GOP pundit claims posted 4/8/2014 on PolitiFact).
We watched the debate play out between conservative pundit Sabrina Schaeffer and liberal pundit Elizabeth Plank on MSNBC’s The Reid Report, and again later between former White House adviser Anita Dunn and conservative pundit Genevieve Wood on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper.
“If you compare women to men in the same job with similar background, similar experiences that they bring to the table, the wage gap all but disappears,” Wood said. “Women have made great strides. Instead of celebrating that, this is a political year, the White House wants to portray this war on women…”
PolitiFact has given you the nuts and bolts about the 77 cents statistic — you can read the two most important works in this area here and here. Basically, there is a wage gap, but it tends to disappear when you compare women and men in the exact same jobs who have the same levels of experience and education.
Well, there it is. Equal pay for equal work. When men and women have the same education, experience and skills doing the same job there is no pay gap. Case closed. In fact, single women without children are actually earning more than single men. Which is the key to this argument. For a woman’s earnings fall with interruptions in her career as she takes time off to have children. Or works reduced hours to care for her children. This is where the pay gap comes in. When you compare apples and oranges. Comparing women who take time off or cut back their working hours or take lower paying jobs that allow her to spend more time with her children to men who don’t. Because they’re single. Or are married and have a wife who takes time off to spend more time with their children.
In fact, women are making great strides. At the expense of men (see Is the Gender Pay Gap Closing or Has Progress Stalled? by Josh Zumbrun posted 4/11/2014 on The Wall Street Journal).
“There’s no question that one of the things that ‘77 cents’ doesn’t emphasize is that there’s been enormous gains,” said Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin.
Looking at the data above shows three clear trends that have emerged since the 1970s:
1) The spread between the sexes narrowed between 1970 and 2000. It has made little progress since.
2) Men have made no income gains in over four decades. Adjusted for inflation, men earn less today than they did in 1972.
3) Women continued to make gains until the recession began. Whatever forces slowed the income growth of men from 1970 to 2000 did not halt the income growth of women.
Simple economics. Supply and demand. Men were making more and more every year. Until the Sexual Revolution. When women began to flood the labor market. With more labor available the cost of labor fell. So as women gained education and experience the supply of educated and experienced workers grew. Allowing employers to pay less for these now more plentiful educated and experienced workers. Which is why as women enjoyed income gains men saw their income decline when adjusted for inflation. Simple economics. Supply and demand.
A long time ago in high school chemistry I remember my lab partner did not complete a homework assignment that was part 1 of a 2-part grade. There was a homework part. And a lab part. Being a nice person I asked the teacher if we could share the grade on the homework part (which I had received an ‘A’ on. Or a 4.0). The teacher was more than generous. He said, “Sure. A 4.0 divided by 2 equals a 2.0 for each.” Or, a ‘C’ for each. Suffice it to say my lab partner did not get a 2.0 on the homework that went undone.
This is why men are earning less. Because women have entered the workforce. The revenue businesses use to pay their employees didn’t increase like the number of educated and experienced workers did. So the amount of available revenue for pay and benefits was shared by more people. Each getting less than a man did before the Sexual Revolution (when adjusted for inflation). So instead of a single paycheck supporting a family these days it now takes two paychecks. Because men are making less today since women have lowered the price of labor. By increasing the supply of labor. Not because they are paid less. But because there are so many workers for so few jobs that businesses don’t have to pay as much as they once did to hire people. Which is more to blame for pressure on wages than any pay gap.