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“The Return To The Roaring 20’s”: The Typical Member Of The 1 Percent Is An Old White Man

The rich are not like you and I.

It’s no secret that income inequality has been growing rapidly, with most the gains in earnings accruing to just the top one percent of Americans. But who are they? A new paper from Lisa A. Keister at Duke University looks at this question and finds that “members of the one percent are disproportionately male, white, and married.” The typical one percenter is 55, compared to about 50 for the bottom 90 percent. The one percent is about 91 percent white — just 1.8 percent of these households are Hispanic and merely 0.2 percent are black. More than half are married, versus about 30 percent for the bottom 90 percent. They are also much more likely to have a graduate degree: about 62 percent have one, compared to less than 10 percent of the bottom 90 percent.

Gender is a little harder to tease out, because the data looks at heads of households and classifies a family with a husband and wife where the husband is the head as male, so the fact that the one percent show up as about 98 percent male doesn’t mean that some rich women aren’t included. But it’s clear that few single mothers or female breadwinners are making it into this group. And we can also look at the job characteristics of the top earners to get a better sense of gender. As Mike Konczal has pointed out, the top one percent is mostly made up of executives, people who work on Wall Street, and managers. Women make up less than 15 percent of executives, while they represent 35 percent of investment banking employees and 40 percent of employees in the broader “Securities, Commodity Contracts and Other Financial Investments” category.

The 1 percent are also different in how they get their money. For the bottom 90 percent, 70 percent of our incomes from wages or salaries. But for the top 1 percent, salary accounts for just half. On the other hand, more than 30 percent of their money comes from businesses, while just 6.1 percent of the money for the bottom 90 percent is from the same source. While the 1 percent holds most of its assets in businesses, for the rest of us our houses are the most commonly held asset. The 1 percent also dominates financial assets, owning nearly 44 percent of the total financial pie, while the bottom 90 percent gets 20 percent.

And while we know that the wealthiest have been gobbling up most of the country’s income — the top 5 percent got the biggest share of income ever recorded in 2012, and the top 1 percent saw a 278 percent increase in their incomes over the last three decades while the middle saw less than a 40 percent bump — wealth concentration may be even worse. Keister’s paper finds that the 1 percent in wealth has held more than one-third of total net worth since 2001 and by 2010 had 34 percent. The bottom 90 percent, on the other hand, is left with just over a quarter of wealth. Wealth inequality is now as bad as it was during the roaring 1920s.


By: Bryce Covert, Think Progress, May 2, 2014

May 5, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Gender Gap | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“GOP’s Clueless Ploy To Woo Women”: Accuse Them Of Whining And Lying!

If you liked GOP messaging on contraception – from Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on Sandra Fluke to Mike Huckabee insisting women who support the ACA’s contraception mandate “cannot control their libidos” – you’ll love the latest Republican campaign against pay equity, newly minted for Equal Pay Day.

Fox News may be the funniest, insisting there’s no such thing as pay inequity — except at the White House, where an American Enterprise Institute study found women still earning less than men. From the Heritage Foundation comes this wisdom: “Equal pay and minimum wage: Two ways to hurt women in the workplace.”  No really, that’s the headline. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called the pay gap “nonsense,” while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called it “bogus.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called equal pay “the left’s latest bizarre obsession” and accused Harry Reid of “blowing a few kisses” to advocates.

Essentially the GOP campaign against pay equity advocates comes down to telling women to stop lying.

Pay inequity means that women lose an average of more than $400,000 in wages over the course of their lifetimes. The infamous “77 cents on the dollar” figure approximates the overall difference between men and women, and conservatives like to claim it compares apples and oranges: Female teachers to male congressmen, for instance. The truth is, multiple studies by the American Association of University Women and others show that the gap exists across all professions and all education levels. In some fields, it’s wider, in some it’s smaller, but it’s omnipresent. And it’s much worse for African-American and Latino women, who make 62 and 54 percent of white men’s wages, respectively. (Asian American women suffer the smallest wage gap, earning 87 percent.)

Democrats believe they can ride those issues to victory in 2014, despite a tough climate for vulnerable incumbents and the propensity of its base to turn out for presidential elections but skip the midterms. One key will be turning out unmarried women, who have become one of the party’s most reliable constituencies after African-Americans. A recent survey by Democracy Corps shows that unmarried women are less likely to vote in 2014 than in 2012 – but that a strong women’s economic agenda could send many more of them to the polls.

Pay equity plus equal health insurance are the policies that score highest among unmarried women voters in the Democracy Corps poll. Right behind are proposals for paid family leave and affordable access to childcare. Democracy Corps found those issues had the capacity to significantly increase the turnout of unmarried women in 2014. Once they were read a list of women’s economic agenda policies favored by Democrats, the percent saying they were “almost certain” to vote in the midterm jumped from 66 to 83 percent.

And although those zany Heritage Foundation scholars last week told Republicans that the secret to solving their problems with unmarried women was to get more of them married, Democracy Corps found that unmarried women were skeptical of GOP policies to encourage marriage. Two-thirds favored greater emphasis on policies that enable work-family balance, to help women and children rise out of poverty, as opposed to 24 percent who backed policies that encouraged marriage.

That’s why President Obama signed two executive orders to narrow the wage gap. One prohibits federal contractors from punishing workers who disseminate information about wages (one way employers hide wage discrimination). Obama will also direct the Labor Department to collect data from federal contractors detailing wages by gender and race.  Obama is also urging Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act – which it won’t – and a minimum wage hike, which is also unlikely.

The Democracy Corps poll also makes clear what many Democrats have suspected: Women like the fact that the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from charging them more than men. Rep. Paul Ryan, who insists the GOP will still push to repeal Obamacare, is handing Democrats another weapon, the poll found.

There was one other interesting finding in the Democracy Corps survey: Unmarried women are very concerned about preserving Medicare and Social Security. That led pollsters to advise Democrats to include those issues in their women’s economic agenda. It makes sense: Women live longer, and are more economically insecure at every stage of life. Unmarried women in particular rely on Social Security and Medicare in old age. It’s just another reason centrist Dems should avoid the lure of the “grand bargain” that ensnared the president and his allies for years.

Earlier this year, a CNN poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe Republicans don’t understand women. That increased to 64 percent among women over 50, who represent a pillar of the GOP base. So smart, aggressive messaging on women’s economic issues could not only help Democrats turn out their base, but conceivably cut into the GOP’s. Republicans are unlikely to help their cause with a strategy that essentially calls women who worry about pay inequity “liars.”


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, April 8, 2014

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Gender Gap | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Same As The Last Time”: What’s The GOP’s Excuse For Opposing Equal Pay This Time?

When Congress considered the Equal Pay Act in the spring of 1963, few objected to the values motivating the legislation. “The principle of equal pay for equal work is one which almost any citizen would strongly support,” wrote the National Retail Merchant Association in prepared testimony for the US Senate that April. Nevertheless, the NRMA opposed the bill “on the grounds that Federal legislation is not needed, that the added cost to administer such a law is unnecessary, and that an equitable law would be complex, confusing and difficult to enforce.”

Fifty-one years later, the conservative, anti-feminist Independent Women’s Forum has this to say about the Paycheck Fairness Act, which expands on the 1963 legislation and will likely succumb this week to a Republican filibuster in the Senate: “Clearly, sex-based wage discrimination is wrong. Furthermore, it’s already illegal…This latest legislation—the Paycheck Fairness Act—won’t lead to more fairness or better pay. It will lead to more lawsuits, more red tape and fewer job opportunities for women and men.”

Not as much has changed since 1963 as one might have hoped, either in the workplace or in politics. Back then opponents of the Equal Pay Act said states were adequately addressing the issue of of equal pay. Others made excuses for the fact that women made 59 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earned, arguing, as Council of Economic Advisors chair Walter Heller did, that the “added costs” of hiring women were to blame. Skepticism about labor protection for women wasn’t strictly partisan; the Democratic chairman of the House subcommittee on labor reportedly kept documents related to the Equal Pay Act filed under B, for “Broads.”

No one says now that the 1963 law was unnecessary or insignificant, though as its supporters acknowledged at the time of its passage, it was only a first step. Today, women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar—or just 64 cents and 55 cents for Black and Hispanic women, respectively— and Republicans are dusting off arguments from last century to block updated legislation, claiming that while they still support its underlying principles, today’s pay really is equal, or else the work is not. (Whether filing methods have changed in the new millennium is unclear.)

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, for example, called the concern about equal pay a “meme,” and Texas governor Rick Perry dismissed it as “nonsense.” Conservatives who do acknowledge the existence of a gender gap often attribute it to the concentration of women in lower-wage jobs. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and traditionally female industries—like education, nursing and domestic work—usually pay less than industries dominated by men, like engineering and IT. The fact that women are funneled into lower-paying fields is certainly a problem. But it’s also true that in almost every single occupation for which data is available, women earn less than male co-workers. That’s true within low-wage industries and in those traditionally dominated by women. For example, women make up nearly 90 percent of the nursing workforce, and they collect $1,086 in median weekly earnings. Male nurses take home an extra $150 each week, according to Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Although the Paycheck Fairness Act is unlikely to pass the Senate, President Obama will sign two executive orders today regarding fair pay for women. One prevents federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages; the other requires contractors to share information about compensation, broken down by race and gender, with the government. The orders won’t accomplish as much as the PFA, which extends those two provisions to private employers, as well as putting the burden on employers to prove that unequal pay is job-related and allowing workers to sue for damages based on gender discrimination, as they can for racial, disability and age discrimination. Still, joint White House and Senate campaigns on equal pay could have symbolic power as Democrats leverage the GOP’s resistance to bread and butter economic measures to spur turnout in the midterms, particularly among women.

Smartly, the GOP has given opposition to the PFA a new face—a female one, telling women to use their own bootstraps to scale the pay gap. “I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators,” said Texas GOP Beth Cubriel, explaining her party’s opposition to fair pay legislation. Targeting legislation at working women is “making us look like whiners,” Minnesota state Represenative Andrea Kieffer said in March. “All Republicans support equal pay for equal work,” wrote Republican National Committee press secretary Kirsten Kukowski, communications director Andrea Bozek and NRSC press secretary Brook Hougesen in a memo. “And while we all know workplace discrimination still exists, we need real solutions that focus on job creation and opportunity for women.”

Conservatives have been pushing back against claims that the GOP is anti-women with the argument that it’s Democrats who demean women by focusing on structural disadvantages. The Independent Women’s Forum, for example, says the PFA “perpetuates the myth that all women are workplace victims.” The idea that government action turns women into victims, or makes them dependent, flows through conservative messaging around the Affordable Care Act, the social safety net, really any program that would help the people whose bootstraps have been stolen. “The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender,” Mike Huckabee said at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in January.

The basic point here is that government can’t do anything good for women, or for people in general. Only individuals themselves, and an unfettered private sector, can. “Not every problem in America can be fixed by Washington,” Katie Packer Gage, Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager, wrote in opposition to the PFA. This anti-government agenda has nothing to do with women’s equality. It is, however, one of the oldest lines in the book.


By: Zoe Carpenter, The Nation, April 8, 2014

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Gender Gap | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Mad Men Problem At Home”: Closing The Wage Gap Begins With Remedying The Housework Gap First

When President Obama addressed the gender-based wage gap during his State of the Union address last week, women cheered and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro even gave out high fives. Obama called on Washington and businesses to help women succeed at work and “do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode.” However, the President forgot to name a key constituency in his call to help women succeed: husbands.

All the workplace policies in the world aren’t going to get women to parity unless we do away with our Mad Men-era policies at home, too. Despite the fact women are the sole or primary source of income in a record 40% of U.S. households, they still do the majority of housework and childcare. According to the Pew Research Center, during an average week[OK? The study, if I’m looking at the right one, seems to have measured weeks rather than days.], women spend more time cleaning, doing laundry, and preparing food then men do. Men, on the other hand, spend more time watching television than women do. And even in households where the woman is the sole breadwinner, the labor division is far from equal. Men who stay home average 18 hours of housework per week, while their working partners average 14. Stay-at-home mothers, though, average 26 hours of housework. Their working partners average just a third of that time. America has a housework gap, and it’s fueling the gender gap at work.

Research indicates there is a direct and negative correlation between housework and the wage gap. One theory, from research in The Journal of Human Resources, suggests this could be employers’ negative reactions to women who appear dedicated to household activities. It could also be that many employers believe mothers are less committed to their jobs than other employees, as Shelley J. Correll, a sociology professor at Stanford University, posits. As a result, employers are reluctant to hire them and offer them high salaries. The “mommy penalty” is real. The wage gap between mothers and non-mothers is greater than that between women and men, according to the advocacy group MomsRising.

It appears that in 2014, we have high expectations of what a woman can accomplish at work, but we still have 1950s expectations about her role at home. But it’s time to rethink and renegotiate who does what where. Men who have opted out of housework should lean in at home so their wives can lean in at work. And they should advocate for, and take advantage of, family-friendly policies such as paid sick days, paternity leave, and flex benefits in order to create a more equitable arrangement at home.

If we truly believe that, as Obama said, “when women succeed, America succeeds,” then we need to stop ignoring the housework gap. Laundry and dirty dishes may not be standard agenda items for our legislators and business leaders, but they should be. After all, a woman can’t have it all if she’s too busy doing it all.


By: Liz O’Donnell, Time, February 4, 2014

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Gender Gap, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Just Keep Short-Changing Women”: Same Job, Same Size Budget Equals Less Pay For Women

Hey, married men – wake up! Your working wives are getting shorted on pay and that means your family has less money than it should.

A new report on pay, made public today by Guidestar USA  proves discrimination against women is pervasive.

The new report compares men and women with the same positions at similarly sized nonprofit enterprises, so the fact that women often work in lower-paid occupations such as waitressing, retail and clerical work is irrelevant in this study.

While women who become waitresses or retail clerks should expect to make less than lawyers and executives, there is no reason that women executives and lawyers should make less than men doing the same jobs — but they do.

Men holding the top spot at nonprofits averaged between 10 percent and a third more than women in the same jobs, Guidestar found.

In general, the bigger the organization and the bigger the job responsibilities, the greater the gap between what women and men are paid — and the greater the share of top jobs held by men.

Guidestar is a nonprofit organization that compiles data reported to the IRS, and the public, by all nonprofits. The 2010 data cover not just charities that solicit donations, but trade organizations, small mutual insurance operations and social welfare organizations among the 29 types of nonprofits authorized by Congress.

This is Guidestar’s 12th annual Nonprofit Compensation Report and it draws on disclosures by more than 77,000 nonprofits.

The report used names to determine sex. Androgynous names like Pat or Chris were excluded from the analysis, Charles McLean, Guidestar’s research director, told me.

At small nonprofits, those with an annual budget of less than $250,000, men in the top job averaged $53,389. That is 10 percent more than the $45,038 paid to women.

More than half of these small nonprofits, 57 percent, were led by women.

At the top, these gaps grew to chasms.

Among organizations with budgets of $50 million or more, men in the top job averaged $644,375. That is almost a third more than the $488,249 average for women CEOs.

Even more telling, women held just 1 in 6 of the CEO jobs at the biggest nonprofits.

The only CEOs who made more than $1 million a year on average were men at $50 million-plus nonprofits who, at the 90th percentile, averaged almost $1.2 million, compared to less than $924,000 for women at the same percentile of pay.

The pattern is pretty much the same for the top legal and finance jobs at nonprofits. However, pay disparities are smaller for public relations.

The same pattern of men dominating in the highest-paid jobs is found in the latest ORS data on wages reported on income tax returns.

Among people with wages of $10 million or more, just one in 29 was a woman. These 60 highly paid women workers averaged $18.8 million in wages in 2010, IRS data shows.

Men accounted for more than 96 percent of all top wage earners. The 1,664 men were paid on average $20.1 million or almost 7 percent more than the highest-paid women workers, the IRS data shows.

The IRS data also shows that as workers get older, the pay disparities between men and women increase. Among workers under age 26, the average pay of men was $16,000 in 2010, just 22 percent more than women of the same age.

But for workers ages 45 to 60, men averaged about $67,000, which was 70 percent more than women, who averaged slightly less than $40,000.

This may reflect occupational choices, but it may also indicate that as time passes, the gap between what men and women make will narrow.

Guidestar gets its figures from the Form 990 tax returns that all nonprofits must file with the IRS. It then analyzes them in many ways, including pay by gender and size of organization budget.

The data is exceptionally robust because Congress micromanages nonprofit pay, a cause championed by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican who is the only pig farmer in the Senate and a longtime antagonist of charities and other nonprofits.

One benefit of Grassley’s instinctive suspicion of nonprofits is that he persuaded Congress to require much more complete disclosures on what nonprofits pay than corporations. Profit-making enterprises only have to disclose what their top five executives were paid, and then only if they have publicly traded stock or bonds.

Even more significant, Congress requires rigorous and costly review of pay comparability for nonprofit leaders.

The zone of discretion for paying nonprofit executives under the laws Grassley sponsored and rules the IRS issued is exceedingly narrow, unlike the wide-open rules for profit-making corporations. For nonprofits with budgets of $5 million to $10 million, the zone of discretion is perhaps $10,000 above or below what the Guidestar and other pay studies show, compensation consultants have advised me when I sought their advice because nonprofit boards on which I volunteered assigned me to recommend the top executive’s pay.

Discrimination against women is pervasive and significant. It is also only slightly less severe than it was in Guidestar’s first pay study in 2001.

McLean, the Guidestar research director, said, “There is progress being made, but it is very slow.”

Two ways to speed up that process:

—Women who are married should make sure their spouses know how much money the family loses because of gender discrimination.

—Men should be in the forefront of demanding for equal pay for women, especially the majority of married men with a working wife.

Or we could do nothing, and just keep shortchanging women.


By: David Cay Johnson, The National Memo, September 16, 2013

September 18, 2013 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Gender Gap | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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