Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, recognized Equal Pay Day Tuesday by urging passage of legislation aimed to close the pay inequality gender gap. National Equal Pay Day represents the day when an average American woman's earnings finally match what an average American man earned in the previous year.
Nationwide, women doing the same job earn just 78 percent of what men earn. In New York, women bring home only 86 percent in earnings compared to male counterparts. In Higgins' Western New York district, 2013 median earnings for men were $46,251, while women doing identical work earn a median salary of just $38,135, or 82 percent by comparison.
Below is the text of the remarks made by Higgins on the House Floor:
"Today on 'Equal Pay Day' we call attention to the fact that American women who work full time are paid only 78 percent of what men earn. For women of color, the discrepancy is worse.
"The pay gap will cost a 25-year-old woman $34,000 over the next five years. Over her career, she will lose $431,000 relative to men.
"Women make up nearly half of the American workforce. Underpaying half of our workers hurts women, hurts families, and hurts the economy.
"In New York, we have the smallest pay gap among the states. But women in New York still earn only 86 cents for every dollar a man is paid. We can do much better.
"When President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, which requires equal pay for equal work, women's pay was at 59 percent of men. We've made progress, but time has exposed loopholes that hinder the law.
"I call on the House to pass Congresswoman DeLauro's Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close these loopholes and bring us closer to pay equity.
"Let's act now to make 'Equal Pay for Equal Work' a reality."
The Paycheck Fairness Act protects workers by prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose salary information with their co-workers, makes it easier for women to file class-action lawsuits against employers accused of gender-based pay discrimination, and requires employers to justify pay disparity is not gender based.
In 2009, Higgins also supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill removing the 180-day statute of limitations requirement for women to report pay discrimination.