White House promotes economic issues facing women

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 12, 2014 at 4:01 pm •  Published: March 12, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Add pay equity to President Barack Obama's 2014 do-it-himself wish list.

The White House is launching a campaign to promote a host of economic issues facing women, a key voting bloc in this year's midterm election.

Obama hosted Democratic female lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday as his Council of Economic Advisers issued a report decrying a gender wage gap. The report highlights that full-time working women continue to earn less than men, despite surpassing men in obtaining college degrees and making inroads into traditionally male-dominated occupations.

"Despite that good news, what we also know is women are still making 77 cents on dollar — including when they enter into these high-paying professions, they're still making less money," Obama said during the meeting with the female lawmakers in the Roosevelt Room.

Obama said he will address economic issues facing women and families at a Working Families Summit on June 23 at Washington's Omni Shoreham hotel, co-hosted by the administration and the liberal Center for American Progress think tank. The summit was announced as part of Obama's State of the Union address in January, when he declared "when women succeed, America succeeds."

The White House says ballots cast this fall by single women in particular will help determine which party performs best in the election. They argue the president's focus on raising the minimum wage is particularly important for those voters, especially those trying to support a family.

But lawmakers have not embraced Obama's call for the minimum wage increase — Obama got in a partisan dig as he said Congress is being "stubborn about these issues, at least some of our good friends on the other side of the aisle."

Republicans point out that the White House has its own pay gap — an analysis of staff salaries done last fall by the conservative American Enterprise Institute found the president's female aides were paid 88 cents for every dollar paid to men, about $65,000 to $73,729 annually. The White House responds that men and women in equivalent roles at the White House earn the same amount and that 10 of 16 department heads are women, earning the top White House salary of $172,200. However, the 77-cent gender gap that Obama is criticizing is calculated workforce-wide and does not represent a comparison of equivalent positions.

The report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers says Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 would shrink the gender wage gap by nearly 5 percent, since women are more likely to earn minimum wage. The report says women account for a rising share of family income, with married women's earnings on average nearly 45 percent of total family earnings in 2013.

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