• <div class="header-image" style="background-image: url(/live/image/gid/4/2725_V6N6_Header.rev.1531768301.jpg);">​</div><div class="header-background-color"/>

A Fair Day’s Wage For A Fair Day’s Work: Data’s Role in Fighting Pay Inequity

October 14, 2016
If there is one statistic everyone knows today, it is the wage gap. On average in 2013, women made 78 cents to a white man’s dollar for the same work, with black women making 64 cents and Hispanic or Latina women, 54 [1]. Pay inequity is widely regarded as a contemporary discrimination issue, and while litigious steps have been taken to address it, laws mean nothing without law enforcement.

By Alexandra Johnson

 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the little-known law enforcement agency responsible for cracking down on pay inequity as a means of enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects individuals against employment discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion [2].

EEOC was the offspring of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, which was mandated by President John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 on March 6, 1961. The EEOC as an independent federal agency was established on July 2, 1965 in order “to give life to Title VII,” as current Commission Chair Jenny Yang reminded the staff on the agency’s 50th anniversary last year [2]. EEOC is also responsible for enforcing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) [3].  

Although EEOC appears in the news most often for cases they win in court or in settlement, it also focuses heavily on compiling and analyzing data in order to further explore systemic discrimination, usually through the Office of Research, Information, and Planning (ORIP) where I am employed this summer. This analysis is used to build stronger cases in defense of targeted parties as well as develop reports and resources to combat discrimination, such as a one-pager designed to help young workers better understand their religious rights in the workplace [4] and a report on anti-harassment efficacy [5].

My work this summer, like EEOC itself, is also the offspring of a presidential committee: President Barack Obama’s National Equal Pay Task Force. In January of this year, EEOC issued a proposal to start collecting pay data on the Employer Information Reports (EEO-1) from federal contractors with 50 or more employees, and from private employers with 100 or more employees, recommending the W2 form to do so [6].  At the recommendation of the task force, EEOC commissioned the National Academy of Science to determine the optimal mechanism of collecting pay data in order to improve the agency’s ability to understand the ful scope of the wage gap. NAS concluded that the best mechanism was through an addendum to the EEO-1 [6]. The Department of Labor and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) joined EEOC on this proposal, which, if approved, would require human resource information systems and payroll to be integrated by January 1, 2017 in order to capture the calendar year 2017 data [7]. The data will be captured in 12 paybands, from $100-$15,999 to <$70,000 with 10 paybands of increments of $5,000 in between.

This data collection is imperative to closing the wage gap. The question of how many dollars to pin to a certain amount of labor has frustrated political economists and wage gap activists for years, given the myriad of factors that can influence employers’ conceptions of how much an employee ought to be paid. For instance, women are more likely to take time off to have or care for a child, which abbreviates work experience, hurts attendance records, and can represent the simple opportunity cost of advancing onself in the workplace, whether through making meaningful contributions or simply logging more hours. The wage gap also manifests itself through the lack of access to education, which is highly correlated with race. In 2013, twice as many White Americans as Black Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 had bachelor’s degrees [8].

But the most devastating aspect of pay inequity is the sheer lack of knowledge. More than 40% of the gender wage gap is “unexplained,” meaning that research has not yet identified – if it ever can – any obvious measurable reason for pay disparities [9]. This question mark is why ORIP’s long-term data work and this new proposal are absolutely integral in the fight against pay inequity. If it is impossible to address the root causes of the wage gap because they are unknown, the next best way to combat pay inequity is to gather as much information about it as possible, so that it is at least possible to identify the injustice when it happens. Without detailed knowledge of how much protected classes are paid in comparison to their counterparts, it is borderline impossible to prove they are paid less.

Once the new proposal is confirmed and the pay data are collected, the product of my summer will come into play. I have been building a statistical application for EEOC to analyze pay inequity within a job group (e.g., Technicians, Service/Maintenance) between a focus group and a comparison group. Each focus group and comparison group is a race, gender, or race/gender combination, making it possible to compare Men to Women, Asians to Hispanics, White Men to Black Women, etc. The application runs a Wilcoxin rank-sum test, which essentially sums the number of focus and comparison group members within each payband and produces a p-value of 0.0 to 1.0, which represents the chance that the data would arise if both groups were paid equally. 0.5 is the bright line, p-values below which are considered statistically significant. This application will be used to provide necessary further insight into pay disparities in particular industries and occupations, build a more robust assessment of discrimination complaints, and hopefully, be used in EEOC’s Office of General Counsel when it comes time to take an instance of pay discrimination to court.

 

References

  [1] Fisher, Milia. “Women and the Gender Wage Gap,” americanprogress.org. Apr. 14, 2015. Available at: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/report/2015/04/14/110962/women-of-color-and-the-gender-wage-gap/.

  [2] [Online] Available: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/50th/index.cfm. [Accessed: Jul. 25, 2016]. 

  [3] [Online] Available: https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/index.cfm. [Accessed: Jul. 25, 2016].

  [4] [Online] Available: https://ustice.gov/crt/file/877936/download. [Accessed: Jul. 25, 2016].

  [5] [Online] Available: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/report.cfm. [Accessed: Jul. 25, 2016].

  [6] [Online] Available: https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-29-16.cfm. [Accessed: Jul. 25, 2016]. 

  [7] Smith, Allen. “EEOC Digs In with Its EEO-1 Pay Data Proposal,” shrm.org. Jul. 18, 2016. Available at: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/pay-data-eeoc.aspx

  [8] Casselman, Ben. “Race Gap Narrows in College Enrollment, But Not in Graduation,” fivethirtyeight.com. Apr. 30, 2014. Available at: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/race-gap-narrows-in-college-enrollment-but-not-in-graduation/

  [9] F. D. Blau and L. M. Kahn,  “The Gender Pay Gap: Have Women Gone as Far as They Can?” Academy of Management Perspectives 21, no. 1, pp. 7-23, 2007. [Online] Available: JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4166284. [Accessed: Jul. 25, 2016].

Student Blog Disclaimer
  • The views expressed on the Student Blog are the author’s opinions and don’t necessarily represent the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative’s strategies, recommendations, or opinions.

PENN WHARTON PPI
RESOURCE SPOTLIGHT:

  • <h3>MapStats</h3><p> A feature of FedStats, MapStats allows users to search for <strong>state, county, city, congressional district, or Federal judicial district data</strong> (demographic, economic, and geographic).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/" target="_blank">http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Congressional Budget Office</h3><p><img width="180" height="180" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/180/380_cbo-logo.rev.1406822035.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image380 lw_align_right" data-max-w="180" data-max-h="180"/>Since its founding in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.</p><p> The agency is strictly nonpartisan and conducts objective, impartial analysis, which is evident in each of the dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates that its economists and policy analysts produce each year. CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate discloses the agency’s assumptions and methodologies. <strong>CBO provides budgetary and economic information in a variety of ways and at various points in the legislative process.</strong> Products include baseline budget projections and economic forecasts, analysis of the President’s budget, cost estimates, analysis of federal mandates, working papers, and more.</p><p> Quick link to Products page: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products</a></p><p> Quick link to Topics: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/topics" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/topics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED®)</h3><p><strong><img width="180" height="79" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/79/481_fred-logo.rev.1407788243.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image481 lw_align_right" data-max-w="222" data-max-h="97"/>An online database consisting of more than 72,000 economic data time series from 54 national, international, public, and private sources.</strong> FRED®, created and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, goes far beyond simply providing data: It combines data with a powerful mix of tools that help the user understand, interact with, display, and disseminate the data.</p><p> Quick link to data page: <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series" target="_blank">http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Bureau of Economic Research (Public Use Data Archive)</h3><p><img width="180" height="43" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/43/478_nber.rev.1407530465.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image478 lw_align_right" data-max-w="329" data-max-h="79"/>Founded in 1920, the <strong>National Bureau of Economic Research</strong> is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.</p><p> Quick Link to <strong>Public Use Data Archive</strong>: <a href="http://www.nber.org/data/" target="_blank">http://www.nber.org/data/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>HUD State of the Cities Data Systems</h3><p><strong><img width="200" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image482 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 3x" data-max-w="612" data-max-h="613"/>The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs.</strong> It is a portal for non-national data made available through a number of outside institutions (e.g. Census, BLS, FBI and others).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html" target="_blank">http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>NOAA National Climatic Data Center</h3><p><img width="200" height="198" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image483 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 3x" data-max-w="954" data-max-h="945"/>NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation’s treasure of <strong>climate and historical weather data and information</strong>.</p><p> Quick link to home page: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCDC’s climate and weather datasets, products, and various web pages and resources: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links</a></p><p> Quick link to Text & Map Search: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Internal Revenue Service: Tax Statistics</h3><p><img width="155" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image486 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg 2x" data-max-w="463" data-max-h="596"/>Find statistics on business tax, individual tax, charitable and exempt organizations, IRS operations and budget, and income (SOI), as well as statistics by form, products, publications, papers, and other IRS data.</p><p> Quick link to <strong>Tax Statistics, where you will find a wide range of tables, articles, and data</strong> that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system: <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2" target="_blank">http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Center for Education Statistics</h3><p><strong><img width="400" height="80" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/400/height/80/479_nces.rev.1407787656.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image479 lw_align_right" data-max-w="400" data-max-h="80"/>The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.</strong> NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES has an extensive Statistical Standards Program that consults and advises on methodological and statistical aspects involved in the design, collection, and analysis of data collections in the Center. To learn more about the NCES, <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/about/" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p><p> Quick link to NCES Data Tools: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4</a></p><p> Quick link to Quick Tables and Figures: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCES Fast Facts (Note: The primary purpose of the Fast Facts website is to provide users with concise information on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning.): <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/#</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Aviation Administration: Accident & Incident Data</h3><p><img width="100" height="100" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image80 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 3x" data-max-w="550" data-max-h="550"/>The NTSB issues an accident report following each investigation. These reports are available online for reports issued since 1996, with older reports coming online soon. The reports listing is sortable by the event date, report date, city, and state.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/" target="_blank">http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The World Bank Data (U.S.)</h3><p><img width="130" height="118" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image484 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1406" data-max-h="1275"/>The <strong>World Bank</strong> provides World Development Indicators, Surveys, and data on Finances and Climate Change.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states" target="_blank">http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The Penn World Table</h3><p> The Penn World Table provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 189 countries/territories for some or all of the years 1950-2010.</p><p><a href="https://pwt.sas.upenn.edu/php_site/pwt71/pwt71_form.php" target="_blank">Quick link.</a> </p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>USDA Nutrition Assistance Data</h3><p><img width="180" height="124" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image485 lw_align_right" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1233" data-max-h="850"/>Data and research regarding the following <strong>USDA Nutrition Assistance</strong> programs are available through this site:</p><ul><li>Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) </li><li>Food Distribution Programs </li><li>School Meals </li><li>Women, Infants and Children </li></ul><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics" target="_blank">http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>