FACT SHEET: The Biden Harris administration announces commitments to promote equal pay and support women’s economic security
On this Equal Pay Day, the White House is announcing important steps the Biden-Harris administration is taking to advance equal pay and promote women’s economic security.
President Biden and Vice President Harris have long advocated equal pay as a cornerstone of their commitment to ensuring that all people have fair and equal opportunities to advance. Closing the gender and race pay gap is essential to building an equitable economy and removing the barriers that have long prevented women from participating fully in the labor market. But we still have work to do. In 2020, the average woman working full-time year-round made 83 cents for every dollar paid to her average male colleague. Compared to the average man who works full-time year-round, the disparities are even greater for Black women, Native American and Latina women, and certain subgroups of Asian women.
On this Equal Pay Day, the Vice President is hosting a virtual summit, bringing together partners from across the country who are taking critical steps to fight pay discrimination, create good-paying jobs and support families’ access to care.
Today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing new policies to boost women’s employment and support working families across the country. These actions will:
• Eligibility for advance payments for the federal workforce. The Office of Personnel Management announced that it awaits the issuance of a proposed regulation that would require the use of past salary histories in the hiring and salary determination process for federal employees, consistent with the President’s Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. Prohibiting the use of past pay histories can help break the cycle of arbitrary and potentially discriminatory past pay that can follow women and workers of color from job to job, thereby entrenching gender and racial pay gaps over time.
• Promote efforts to achieve equal pay for job applicants and employees of federal contractors. President Biden will sign an executive order directing the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to consider improving pay equity and transparency, including restricting or prohibiting federal contractors from collecting information about current or past compensation from job applicants and employees and consider when making employment decisions and appropriate accountability measures. The Department of Labor will consult with the FAR Council on the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of federal procurement that would be promoted by potential regulatory changes and the most effective implementation strategy for any subsequent rulemaking.
• Strengthening of wage equality checks by federal contractors. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has issued new guidance clarifying the annual requirement for federal contractors to analyze their compensation practices. Conducting these pay equity reviews helps to address and prevent pay gaps based on gender, race or ethnicity.
• Ensure equal access to well-paid jobs. The Department of Labor has issued a report analyzing the impact that the concentration of women in low-wage sectors – and their relative under-representation in many high-paying jobs – is having on their overall economic security and the gender and ethnic pay gap. The report finds that black women lost $39.3 billion in wages and Hispanic women lost $46.7 billion in wages compared to white men in 2019 due to industry and occupation disparities. This segregation compounded the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, in part due to the over-representation of women in hard-hit industries such as hospitality.
• Combating discrimination against carers. Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a Carer Discrimination Technical Guidance that addresses the circumstances in which discrimination against job applicants and employees based on pandemic-related caring responsibilities may violate federal employment discrimination laws.
The actions announced today build on actions the administration has taken to advance pay equity, including:
• Emergency relief through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) for millions of women who have borne the brunt of the pandemic. This work includes: establishing a historic immunization program that has fully vaccinated more than 215 million Americans; reopening of schools; providing direct payments to individuals; expansion of family feeding programs; providing paid vacation tax credits to small and medium-sized employers; Distribution of the majority of emergency rent assistance to households headed by women; and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which over the past year has helped reduce child poverty to an estimated lowest level in recorded American history.
• Has helped keep nannies open and increased nannies’ pay. States have already awarded American Rescue Plan Stabilization Grants to more than 150,000 childcare workers who care for more than 5 million children and their families. A survey found that 92% of providers receiving funds have relied on them to help them stay open and nearly half have used them to pay down debt incurred during the pandemic. Many states also used funds to increase the pay of childcare workers. For example, Minnesota required vendors to increase compensation, while North Carolina and Connecticut offered vendors bonus payments that increased workforce compensation. Increasing childcare pay helps narrow gender and racial pay gaps, as more than nine in 10 are women and more than four in 10 are women of color. While ARP funds have allowed child care programs to provide temporary bonuses, they require long-term funding as the President has proposed increasing wages on a sustained basis.
• Providing tax breaks to support families with childcare costs during the pandemic by providing a historic increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to support millions of working families this tax season. The ARP has increased the maximum CDCTC for a middle-income family with two children under the age of 13 by more than sixfold, providing up to $8,000 for child care expenses in 2021. It will reimburse most families for up to half of their childcare costs. And the ARP CDCTC is fully refundable, so low-income parents can fully benefit regardless of their tax liability. Even before the pandemic, families were struggling to afford childcare, forcing parents, and especially mothers, to forego higher-paying jobs, work fewer hours, or take time off work, resulting in lower pay over the course of their lives career led. The President has urged Congress to pass his childcare plan, which could reduce childcare costs for nine out of 10 families with young children.
• Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for federal employees and contractors, benefiting many women and people of color. The President issued executive orders directing the administration to work towards requiring employees working on federal contracts and federal employees to earn a minimum wage of $15 an hour. These guidelines went into effect in January and increased the wages of about 370,000 federal employees and employees of federal contractors. These policies not only help the government do its job more efficiently, but also take a step towards narrowing the racial and gender pay gap, as many low-wage workers are women and people of color. The regulation also eliminates the minimum wage for workers with disabilities. The President has asked Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour so American workers can have jobs that offer dignity and make greater strides toward wage equity.
• Signing of the bipartisan infrastructure law. Government investment through this law will improve access to well-paying jobs, including for women, people of color and members of other communities currently underrepresented in the sectors where those jobs are being created, such as transportation, clean energy and broadband. The Department of Transportation and the Department of Labor signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the creation of good infrastructure and transportation jobs with an emphasis on equitable human resource development using funds from the bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
• Issued an executive order to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility throughout the federal government — the nation’s largest employer — including by prioritizing efforts to close gender and racial pay gaps, address workplace safety and harassment, including among our national security workers, and promote equity for LGBTQI+ public officials.
• Issued an executive order to promote competition in the American economy. This established the government’s policy of addressing anti-competitive behavior in labor markets, which can severely affect women and workers of color. The regulation includes specific initiatives to promote competition in labor markets, including encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prohibit or restricting non-competition clauses and encouraging the FTC and Department of Justice to strengthen antitrust guidance to prevent Employers work together to suppress wage or benefit cuts by sharing wage and benefit information.