More Pinocchios for White House Wage Gap Claims

The Fact Checker at the Washington Post had previously examined the claim reiterated by President Obama that women only make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, and awarded it one Pinocchio for its lack of truthfulness. The President has continued to use the factoid, including in his last two State of the Union addresses and in a speech this week, so the Post revisited the claim. They now feel they were too generous in their previous assessment:

From a political perspective, the Census Bureau’s 77-cent figure is golden. Unless women stop getting married and having children, and start abandoning careers in childhood education for naval architecture, this huge gap in wages will almost certainly persist. Democrats thus can keep bringing it up every two years .

There appears to be some sort of wage gap and closing it is certainly a worthy goal. But it’s a bit rich for the president to repeatedly cite this statistic as an “embarrassment.” (His line in the April 8 speech was almost word for word what he said in the 2014 State of the Union address.) The president must begin to acknowledge that “77 cents” does not begin to capture what is actually happening in the work force and society.

Thus we are boosting the rating on this factoid to Two Pinocchios. We were tempted to go one step further to Three Pinocchios, but the president is relying on an official government statistic – and there are problems and limitations with the other calculations as well.

Other interesting findings on the wage gap reported by the Post include Bureau of Labor Statistic data showing that women who never marry earn 96 cents for every dollar a man makes. Additionally, another survey by the Labor Department concluded that if you put a dollar value on the fringe benefits that women usually opt for — like more flexible parental leave — the wage gap is a mere 5 cents on the dollar.

Read more here.


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