Obama Administration Wants More Data on Worker Pay

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

The Obama administration is announcing a new proposal that would increase the amount of data the federal government collects about worker pay.

The announcement comes on the seventh anniversary of the President’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for employees to challenge their employers’ discriminatory pay practices.

At an event marking the anniversary of the bill, Lilly Ledbetter, a former Goodyear employee who has become the poster child for equal pay for equal work, said that standing next to the president the day he signed the act into law, the first bill he signed as president, was one of the proudest moments of her life. And though legislation to continue expanding equal pay has stalled in Congress the president, she said, has kept pushing for more pay equity.

“He has not rested on his Ledbetter laurels,” she said.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the federal agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws, and the Department of Labor will put forward a proposal on Friday that calls for annual collections of pay data broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. The Obama administration says 63 million employees would be covered under the proposal, which expands on a Department of Labor plan put forward in 2014 to collect similar data on federal contract workers.

“What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?” Obama said. “So today we’re taking one more step.”

Under the new proposal, any business with 100 or more employees would be required to collect and submit data to the federal government. Obama administration officials said Thursday the information could be used to inform investigations into companies that are accused of discriminatory practices.

“This won’t solve every problem,” Obama said at an event at the White House on Friday. “We’ve still got to make sure women are not penalized or held back in the workplace for starting a family. Guys, we’re responsible for the family thing, too.”

Obama said there’s still work to do on addressing a number of issues, from family leave policies to the minimum wage. On a call with reporters Thursday, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett admitted that closing the gender pay gap, which has become a fixture in the American political conversation as of late, is difficult. On average, women still make about 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man, while black and Latina women make 60 and 55 cents per every dollar earned by white men, respectively.

“But we have not given up,” Jarrett said. “This is an issue that’s personal for President Obama who has said over and over again that there’s no reason why his daughters should be paid less than anyone’s sons for doing the same job.”

Though the President’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the first bill he signed as president, helped guide the initial Obama years, the president has faced criticism for not pushing Congress to pass more legislation that would address the equal pay gap. Instead, he’s used his executive authority to address the issue of pay inequity.

On Friday, Obama is also announcing a summit, the “United States of Women,” that the White House will host in May. The White House says the summit will ” be a moment to mark the significant progress we made on behalf of women and girls both domestically and internationally over the course of the Administration, and will also offer an opportunity to discuss solutions to the challenges they still face.”

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