Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law. The landmark law recognized the right of equal pay for equal work, prohibiting pay discrimination on the basis of sex for workers doing substantially similar jobs. It was a momentous step forward and created the first of many equal pay protections to combat pay discrimination that harms women, particularly women of color.
While we’ve made strides to protect workers from pay discrimination based on race, age, disability, and more since then, our work is not done. For women working full-time, year-round the pay gap has narrowed from 59 cents in 1963 to 84 cents in 2021, compared to every dollar paid to men. But gender and racial pay gaps remain, and are even greater for Black women, Native American women, Latinas, many Asian American women, and women with disabilities.
Vice President Harris and I are committed to building on the legacy of the Equal Pay Act and ensuring every worker is paid fairly and has the opportunity to participate in our economy to their fullest potential. To strengthen equal pay protections, I have issued Executive Orders to advance pay equity for the Federal workforce, including the elimination of discriminatory pay practices, and to promote efforts to achieve pay equity for job applicants and employees of Federal contractors. To address caregiving challenges that force families, and women in particular, to cut back on work and lower their earnings, I recently announced a sweeping set of executive actions to make child care and long-term care more accessible and affordable for families, and to boost pay and job quality for care workers, who are disproportionately women of color. This builds on the $39 billion in significant funding under my American Rescue Plan that helped 220,000 child care providers keep their doors open during the pandemic.
Sixty years after the signing of the Equal Pay Act, the fight for equal pay continues, which is why this Congress must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to increase pay transparency for workers, strengthen protections to fight discrimination, and help level the playing field for women and people of color. I will never stop working towards the promise of equal protection under the law and for an economy that works for everyone.