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Real Clear Politics: How Our Politicians Measure Up on Equal Pay Day

April 10, 2018 10:30 AM
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How Our Politicians Measure Up on Equal Pay Day

By Adam Andrzejewski 
April 10, 2018
 
It’s Equal Pay Day – an opportunity for activists to raise awareness about the perceived pay gap between America’s working men and women. It’s also an opportunity for politicians to attack gender bias in private companies, as they do throughout the year.
 
But as politicians point fingers and demand gender equality in private companies around the country, it’s important to ask how those politicians are doing with their own hiring.
 
In October, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Federal and State Government’s Gender Hiring Gap analyzing payrolls from federal agencies, Congress, the White House, and government positions at the state and local levels. We found it’s still a man’s world in government. Across the board, we found that men significantly outnumber women in the top-paid government positions.
 
However, it’s important to note that we didn’t find any evidence that men and women in the same position were paid differently – that would be illegal. We didn’t find a gender pay gap, but a gender hiring gap, meaning men far outnumber women in highly compensated executive positions.
 
For example, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio issues Equal Pay Day proclamations, and, last year, made quite a spectacle hugging the "Fearless Girl" statute that faces the Charging Bull on Wall Street. Yet, 197 out of the 200 top-paid New York City workers are men. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s controlled payroll has just 12 females out of the top 100 most highly compensated city employees.
 
Here’s how some members of Congress are doing on their own executive-controlled payrolls:
 
  • Nancy Pelosi – minority leader of the House 
On Equal Pay Day 2017, Pelosi issued a press release alleging that women in the U.S. who work full time, year-round earn only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, on average. "Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental principle of fairness in our economy and in our democracy," the former speaker said. Although Pelosi employed 25 men compared to 30 women, her male employees made a collective $3.1 million while the women made $2.8 million. On average, male employees made $124,404 while female employees made $94,398. Does Pelosi’s call for equal pay not include her own office?
  • Kevin McCarthy – majority leader of the House 
McCarthy is up for re-election this November, and three of his five competitors are women. In 2016, he employed 19 men and 10 women. Collectively, his male staffers made $1.68 million while female staffers made $755,500. On average, men in McCarthy’s office made $88,289 while women made $75,550. 
  • Paul Ryan – speaker of the House 
In 2009, Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, arguing the bill was more about lawsuits than equal pay. The bill passed, however, and Ryan has faced allegations of fighting a "war on women" ever since. But his hiring practices were better than those of his Democratic counterpart, Pelosi. In 2016, Ryan employed 24 men and 27 women. Collectively, men earned $2.52 million while women earned $2.48 million. On average, male employees made $104,846 while female employees made $91,846.
 
A few leaders in the Senate employed more women than men, but paid male employees more on average. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer employed 27 women compared to 13 men in fiscal year 2017. But on average Schumer’s male employees made $66,590 while his female employees made $59,489. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin also had more women on staff: 33 female employees compared to 25 male employees. On average, however, women earned $63,941 while men earned $71,675.
 
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – who has been criticized for his "awful positions on women’s rights" – employed 23 men and 23 women on his staff. On average, however, male employees made $99,010 while female employees received $66,202.
 
On both sides of the aisle, some congressional members run their payrolls without gender disparity. For example, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D) employed 14 women and 15 men on his staff. On average, Hoyer’s female employees received $104,213 while male employees made $99,106. In the Senate, John Cornyn (R) employed 24 women and 23 men. On average, Cornyn’s female employees made $75,471 while male employees made $72,864.
 
Often times, politicians talk about a "war on women" in an effort to score political points. It’s time the American people used hard data to fact-check our politicians and demand results, not rhetoric.
 
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