On this Equal Pay Day, the White House announces crucial steps the Biden-Harris administration is taking to advance pay equity and promote women’s economic security.
President Biden and Vice President Harris have long championed equal pay as a cornerstone of their commitment to ensuring everyone has a fair and equal chance to advance. Closing gender and racial wage gaps is essential to building a fair economy and overcoming barriers that have long prevented women from fully participating in the workforce. But we still have work to do. In 2020, the average woman working full time, full year earned 83 cents for every dollar paid to her average male counterpart. Compared to the average man working full-time, full-year, the disparities are even greater for black women, Native American women, and Latinas, as well as certain subpopulations of Asian women.
On this Equal Pay Day, the Vice President is hosting a virtual summit, bringing together partners from across the country who are taking critical steps to fight wage discrimination, create well-paying jobs and support families’ access to care.
Today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing new actions to promote employment for women and support working families across the country. These actions will:
• Advance pay equity for the federal workforce. The Office of Personnel Management announced that it plans to issue draft regulations that will address the use of salary history in the hiring and salary setting process for federal employees, in accordance with the Presidential Executive Order on Diversity , equity, inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce. Prohibiting the use of past wage history can help break the cycle of arbitrary and potentially discriminatory past wages that can follow women and workers of color from job to job, entrenching pay gaps between genders and races over time.
• Promote efforts to achieve pay equity for job seekers and employees of federal contractors. President Biden will sign an executive order directing the Federal Acquisitions Regulatory Board to consider improving pay equity and transparency, including limiting or prohibiting federal contractors from seeking and reviewing current compensation information or of job applicants and employees when making employment decisions, and appropriate accountability measures. The Department of Labor will consult with the FAR Council on the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of federal contracts that would be aided by potential regulatory changes, and on the most effective implementation strategy for any future regulations.
• Strengthen pay equity audits by federal contractors. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has issued a new directive clarify the annual obligation of federal contractors to analyze their compensation practices. Conducting these pay equity audits helps address and prevent pay disparities based on gender, race or ethnicity.
• Ensure equitable access to well-paid jobs. The Department of Labor has issued a report analyzing the impact that the concentration of women in low-wage sectors – and their relative under-representation in many high-paying professions – has on their overall economic security and gender and racial wage gaps. The report finds that in 2019, black women lost $39.3 billion and Hispanic women lost $46.7 billion in wages compared to white men due to industry and occupation differences. This segregation has intensified the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, in part due to the overrepresentation of women in hard-hit industries such as hospitality.
• Fight against discrimination against caregivers. Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published technical support on Caregiver Discrimination, addressing circumstances in which discrimination against job applicants and employees based on pandemic-related caregiving responsibilities may violate federal employment discrimination laws.
The measures announced today build on actions the Administration has taken to advance pay equity, including:
• Provided immediate relief through the US Rescue Plan (ARP) to millions of women who have borne the brunt of the pandemic. This work includes: establishing a landmark vaccination program that has fully vaccinated more than 215 million Americans; the reopening of schools; provide direct payments to individuals; expand nutrition programs for families; providing paid vacation tax credits to small and medium-sized businesses; distributing the majority of emergency rental assistance to female-headed households; and the expansion of the child tax credit, which last year helped reduce child poverty to its estimated lowest level in recorded American history.
• Helped keep child care providers open and raised wages for child care workers. States have already awarded US Bailout Stabilization Grants to more than 150,000 child care providers serving more than 5 million children and their families. A investigation finds that 92% of providers receiving funds relied on them to stay open and nearly half used them to pay off debt incurred during the pandemic. Many states have also used funds to help raise pay for child care staff. For example, Minnesota requires suppliers to increase compensation, while North Carolina and Connecticut offered bonuses to suppliers who increased labor compensation. Increasing pay for child care workers is helping to narrow the gender and racial pay gap, as more than nine in ten are women and more than four in ten are women of color. While ARP funds have allowed child care programs to provide temporary bonuses, they need long-term funding because the president has offered to sustain pay rises.
• Provided tax relief to help families with childcare costs during the pandemic by providing a historic increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to support millions of working families this tax season. ARP has increased the maximum CDCTC by more than six times for a median-income family with two children under age 13, providing up to $8,000 for child care costs in 2021. It will reimburse the most families up to half of their child care costs. And the CDCTC ARP is fully refundable, helping low-income parents take full advantage of it, regardless of their tax liability. Even before the pandemic, families struggled to pay childcare costs, forcing parents and especially mothers to give up better-paying jobs, work fewer hours or miss the job market. , leading to lower wages over the course of their careers. The president has urged Congress to pass his child care plan, which could reduce child care costs for nine out of 10 families with young children.
• Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for federal workers and contractors, benefiting many women and people of color. The president issued executive orders directing the administration to ensure that employees working on federal contracts and federal employees earn a minimum wage of $15 an hour. These guidelines took effect in January, increasing the wages of about 370,000 federal employees and employees of federal contractors. In addition to helping the government do its job more effectively, these guidelines take a step towards reducing racial and gender income disparities, as many low-wage workers are women and people of color. The ordinance also eliminates the sub-minimum wage for workers with disabilities. The president called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, so American workers can have dignified work, and to make further progress toward pay equity.
• Signature of the bipartite infrastructure law. The administration’s investments through this law will increase access to well-paying jobs, including for women, people of color and members of other communities who are currently underrepresented in sectors where these jobs will be created, such as transport, clean energy and broadband. . The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Labor have signed a protocol of agreement promote the creation of good jobs in infrastructure and transportation with a focus on equitable workforce development using bipartisan infrastructure act funding.
• Issued an executive order to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility across the federal government – the nation’s largest employer – including prioritizing efforts to close gender and racial pay gaps, address workplace safety and harassment, including among our national security personnel, and advance equity for LGBTQI+ civil servants.
• An executive order on promoting competition in the US economy is issued. This established the Administration’s policy of dealing anti-competitive behavior in labor markets, which can weigh heavily on women and workers of color. The order includes specific initiatives to promote competition in labor markets, including encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prohibit or limit non-competition agreements, and encouraging the FTC and the Department of Justice to strengthen antitrust guidelines to prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits by sharing wage and benefits information.