Thursday, October 25, 2012

Electioneering, Women and Equal Pay ... How about Taking a Look at What's Been Happening to Pay for the "Median Man" the Past 40 Years? .... For Men with Only a High School Diploma, It's Down 41%


President Obama is seeking to assure his reelection by touting "his" policies which attract the women's vote. Women are always a reliable Democratic voting constituency, so emphasizing what he's done for women is hardly surprising.

But we're not hearing much from him about what amounts to a much bigger problem today --- pay and jobs for men. He probably reasons that most men won't vote for him anyway, so why bother?

But here's what may be a suprising factoid for most people. While we continue to hear a great deal from President Obama about the Lilly Ledbetter Act of 2009 and all it's purportedly done for women, equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land since the 1960s. Yes, that's right. And that happened a half century ago --- not in 2009.

 Obama Overloads a Tale of Equal Pay tells the story:

"President Obama makes much of his concern for women's rights, particularly regarding equal pay, but he seems not to be aware that for nearly half a century we have enjoyed the protection of two laws requiring equal pay. The 1963 Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act combined to settle the matter in law.

Mr. Obama brags that the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act bestowed equal-pay rights for women. The act, he has said, "is a big step toward making sure every worker," male and female, "receives equal pay for equal work." No, it was a teensy step. It merely changed how the statute of limitations is calculated.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits wage disparity between men and women who work in the same place and perform jobs that require substantially the same "skill, effort, and responsibility." The statute of limitations for filing suit is two or three years, depending on whether the discriminatory act is intentional.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act covers discriminatory hiring, firing and promotions as well as pay. It requires filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days after an intentional discriminatory act.

President Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Bill with Lilly Ledbetter, at center behind the President, in January 2009. . . .

In 2009, the Democratic-controlled Congress amended Title VII, allowing a suit to be brought within 180 days of any "discriminatory compensation decision"—in other words, any too-low paycheck....

So the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was premised on the legislators' pretending that Congress was not responsible for the precise words of its own law setting the 180-day deadline.

It is amazing that our law professor/president, who has repeatedly misstated the Ledbetter law and facts, does not know this legal history. Or maybe he does."



On the other hand, men have very real pay problems which are largely being ignored by the President. I guess that's because the facts with respect to pay trends for men do not favor the Dems and President Obama in this year's election. Politics sucks.

Putting politics aside, the issues with men, education, jobs and pay are very real ones indeed, so we'll discuss them now.  We'll use facts to make the necessary case for paying much greater attention to the future plight of jobs and pay for working age men in the U.S. today.

The Uncomfortable Truth About American Wages lays out the problem of jobs and pay between the sexes in a straightforward manner:

"Job creation has rightly been the central economic issue of the last three years as the United States continues its recovery. But the problems with the job market are not entirely recent. The downturn also exacerbated longer-term challenges in the labor market that are driven by a variety of factors, including technological change, international trade and the decline of unions. Many of these forces have been around since the 19th century, but today, for what may be the first time in American history, we are failing to invest enough in our skills and productivity to stay ahead of these trends, and the impacts of this failure are reflected in the declining wages of many American workers.

Because the role of women in the labor force has changed strikingly over the last 40 years, the problem is most evident in trends in male earnings. And, in fact, there has been a lot of talk about the stagnating wages of American male workers. Using conventional methods of analysis, the data show that the median earnings for prime-age (25-64) working men have declined slightly from 1970 to 2010, falling by 4 percent after adjusting for inflation.

This finding of stagnant wages is unsettling, but also quite misleading. For one thing, this statistic includes only men who have jobs. In 1970, 94 percent of prime-age men worked, but by 2010, that number was only 81 percent. The decline in employment has been accompanied by increases in incarceration rates, higher rates of enrollment in the Social Security Disability Insurance program and more Americans struggling to find work. Because those without jobs are excluded from conventional analyses of Americans’ earnings, the statistics we most commonly see — those that illustrate a trend of wage stagnation — present an overly optimistic picture of the middle class.

When we consider all working-age men, including those who are not working, the real earnings of the median male have actually declined by 19 percent since 1970. This means that the median man in 2010 earned as much as the median man did in 1964 — nearly a half century ago. Men with less education face an even bleaker picture; earnings for the median man with a high school diploma and no further schooling fell by 41 percent from 1970 to 2010.
Women have fared much better over these 40 years, but they started from a lower level, and the same problems faced by their male counterparts are beginning to have an effect. Since 1970, the earnings of the median female worker have increased by 71 percent, and the share of women 25 to 64 who are employed has risen to 71 percent, from 54 percent. But after making significant wage gains over several decades, that progress has slowed and even reversed recently. Since 2000, the earnings of the median woman have fallen by 6 percent.

Though these trends in earnings for American workers — men and women alike — are troubling and have many causes, the data do present some clear guidance for policy makers. Among the most robust findings in economics is that education reduces unemployment and increases earnings. But even with the remarkable capacity for education to produce growth, the rate of educational attainment in the United States has slowed, especially for men. The share of men 25 to 34 with a college degree, for example, has barely increased over the last 30 years. (The trends are much better for women.) The United States, once the world leader in educational attainment, has been surpassed by many countries.

Summing Up

The facts present a sobering and dismal picture of the earnings decline for the "median man" today compared to the past. 

And perhaps most disturbing, in inflation adjusted income the median man with a high school diploma has seen a real earnings decline of 41% since 1970.

On the other hand, while women have fared better on a relative basis than their male counterparts, even their median real income has fallen by 6% since 2000.

Thus, the problem in America isn't wage equality between the sexes. So let's stop acting as if it is. It's time to face facts, deal with reality and create a better future for all Americans, men, women and kids included.

The fundamental issue for working age Americans of both sexes is a lack of good jobs and falling wages. And to help solve that problem, we need to get many more males interested in and capable of pursuing and completing a college education.

And while we definitely need more men to graduate from college, we also need to assure that there will be good jobs available to them upon graduation as a result of a strong and stable U.S. economy.

And that's simply not happening. 

So despite what the pandering politicians may say and regardless of how the sexes may vote, the truth is still the truth. 

And especially for the "median man," it's an ugly truth indeed.

At least that's my take. 

Thanks. Bob.

No comments:

Post a Comment