COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | FRED SCHNAUBELT

The gender wage gap: Whom to believe?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s second-highest priority last week was equal pay for women. You may recall the hundreds of ads that Rep. Scott Peters’ campaign ran about women making only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes; President Barack Obama said the same thing in January.

The Washington Post gave the president two Pinocchios for the questionable claim in its fact-checking rating, and stated that it would have been three, except he relied on a government report.

How women makes 23 percent less than men is calculated from 104 million workers by taking the median of full-time female annual wages compared to all men’s annual wages. The difference is 23 percent, hence the 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Another way to calculate the so-called gender wage gap is to compare women’s average monthly wages with men’s; the gap then falls to 19 percent.

A third way is to compare weekly wages; the gender gap is down to about 18 percent. Men work more weeks per year on average than women.

The fourth way is to compare hourly wages. Then the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 13 percent gap, but the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in 2011 reported 3.6 percent, if you include total compensation (fringe benefits); 3.6% could be within the margin of error.

You might ask yourself if women are truly working for 23 percent less money than men doing the same job, why aren’t businesses hiring all women and making 23 percent more profit, substantially more than they typically make.

Most of the above comparisons, as in the movie “Absence of Malice” are “not true, but accurate.” They are statistically accurate, but ask yourself which provide the truest picture about women’s earnings. Recall what Mark Twain said about statistics.

Things to think about: The Social Security Administration notes there is 35 percent difference when using higher average wages compared to median wages.

Full-time work is defined as 35 hours, which many women work, whereas most men work more than 41 hours. This is why the wage gap is different when using annual wages, monthly wages, weekly wages and hourly wages, and also averages versus medians.

Additionally, few women work in such high-paid jobs as lumberjack tree toppers, electrical power pole installers, high-rise ironworkers, skyscraper window washers, roofers, coal miners, commercial fishing, offshore oil riggers, and portable toilet cleaners, etc.

Furthermore, 12 times more men are killed on the job than women, suggesting more men work in high-paying but dangerous jobs. It is also statistically accurate that more women than men work part time and here they are paid slightly more than men.

One way to eliminate the wage gap would be to pass a law that men must stay home and take care of their small children. And if that doesn’t work, make them stay home and take care of other people’s children, particularly those of unmarried women who generally earn less money.

Liberals are succeeding with gender-free restrooms and could also work on forcing men to take time off work to breastfeed — all things that could help reduce the gender wage Gap.


Schnaubelt, president of Citizens for Private Property Rights, has been a commercial real estate broker for 45 years and was a San Diego city councilman from 1977 to 1981.

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