THE EQUAL PAY ACT is the landmark law passed 50 years ago that requires employers to pay men and women equally for substantially equal work. Yet 50 years later, equal pay is still America’s unfinished business. In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, a woman was typically paid 59 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart — a 41-cent wage gap. In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, women working full time, year round were typically paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Although women have narrowed the gap by 18 cents over the past five decades, the wage gap today stands at 23 cents.
This report shines a light on federal and state policies that can help close the wage gap. It identifies the remaining barriers to achieving fair pay for women and concrete steps that can be taken by federal and state policymakers to ensure that women and their families are not struggling indefinitely to make do with less.