Shea-Porter Statement on Equal Pay Day

WASHINGTON - Today, Equal PayDay, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter called on the new Congress to take meaningful steps this year to ensure that women are paid equal wages for doing equal work.

Equal Pay Day is observed across the country as the time of year in which the wages paid to women 'catch up' to the wages paid to men from the previous year. Because the average woman earns less, she must work longer for the same amount of pay. Despite women's gains in education, the pay gap increases after 10 years in the work force.

Forty percent of full-time workers in New Hampshire are women, but 67 percent of those at or near the minimum wage are women. About one quarter of the womenworking full-time earn less than $25,000 - not a living wage when compared to the actual cost of living in our state.

"When people do equal work they should get equal pay," said Shea-Porter. "It's a fairness issue."

Shea-Porter is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1338),which would require the Department of Labor to encourage employers to eliminate pay disparities and to award employers who reduce inequities. The bill would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers. It would also allow women to sue for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages now available under the Equal Pay Act.

President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963. Yet to this day, women in New Hampshire are paid on average 71 cents for every dollar a man is paid. In fact, in every state in the nation women earn less than men doing equivalent jobs.

"Equal pay is a family issue, not just a women's issue," said Shea-Porter. "The wage gap hurts everyone because it means less money for the essentials-childcare, medical costs, gas, and groceries. This is a bi-partisan issue. Let's do what's right for women and for families."