The Spectacle Blog

Obama’s ‘77 Cents on the Dollar’ Claim Debunked

By on 1.29.14 | 5:56PM

Obama won’t give it up.

If you also suffered through the State of the Union address, you heard him praise Obamacare, claim he would slash bureaucracy, and of course, fight for income equality.

Obama pandered to the ladies, his tone becoming more passionate with every overly emotional word:  

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.

You have probably heard that statistic—77 cents on the dollar. Speech after speech from the left side of town loves to rest their entire “we’re with women” campaign on that foundation—but its sinking sand.

To debunk this myth, we turn to—not a conservative female journalist, a Heritage white paper, or Rand Paul—but none other than Hanna Rosin, the uber-feminist author of The End of Men.

Five months ago, Rosin buried that 77 cents—but last night Obama (or his speechwriters) robbed the grave. Rosin wrote:

The official Bureau of Labor Department statistics show that the median earnings of full-time female workers is 77 percent of the median earnings of full-time male workers. But that is very different than “77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.”

The statistic does not mean that the female factory worker standing next to a male factory worker is only making $7.25 an hour while he makes $8.02:

Women congregate in different professions than men do, and the largely male professions tend to be higher-paying. If you account for those differences, and then compare a woman and a man doing the same job, the pay gap narrows to 91 percent. So, you could accurately say in that Obama ad that, “women get paid 91 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.”

Many men tend to go into science and engineering fields which generally pay more. Women who stay at home with children are factored in as earning nothing. Therefore, the 77 cent stat is a misleading one.

Rosin adds that the reason women are making less could largely depend on more complicated issues, such as maternity leave, marriage, and a lack of childcare options. Debates on those topics can be saved for another day.

What deserves immediate attention is how she cites one of the most important reasons that women make less than men—perhaps, “Women just don’t want to work the same way men do.”

In today’s world, it is highly unlikely that a boss would cut a woman’s salary just because she is a woman. However, women may never make the same median income as men because women and men are different. What makes a man tick isn’t always “What a girl wants.”

So will the pay gap ever disappear? Only time will tell.

But if even Obama’s fellow leftists are debunking his facts, he might want to give it up. 

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