Heller Votes Against Paycheck Fairness Act

As noted in the previous post, the Senate Republicans, Nevada Senator Dean Heller included, blocked consideration of S. 3220 the Paycheck Fairness Act.  A person could guess their reasoning followed the lines set out in the first post today, but the “it would hurt small business” line makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

GOP Math: Women control 73% of household spending; Our economy is 76% based on consumer purchases; therefore it’s OK to pay women 25% less? [JECSen pdf]

How on this little blue planet are we supposed to sustain demand for goods and services when employers are allowed the license to pay female employees who comprise at least 47% of the total U.S. workforce 25% less than their male counterparts?   And, we’re not talking about small amounts of pocket money here —  73% of American women in the workforce are holding full time jobs,  27% are only working part time. [DoL 2010]

Additionally, the increase in the female portion of the workforce isn’t slowing down:

“The factor most responsible for the earlier high growth rate was the rapid increase in the labor force participation rate of women, which stood at 34 percent in 1950 and increased to 60 percent by 2000. The number of women in the labor force rose from 18 million in 1950 to 66 million in 2000, an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent. The share of women in the labor force grew from 30 percent in 1950 to almost 47 percent in 2000, and the number of working women is projected to reach 92 million by 2050—on the basis of an annual growth rate of 0.7 percent. That same year, women’s share of the workforce is expected to be nearly 48 percent.” [BLS pdf]

We’re at 47% already and we’re not even shoving up on 2050 yet.  We may have even surpassed the 49% mark as at least one JEC white paper cites a 49.8% female participation in the workforce rate.

The marketing gurus haven’t been ignoring the accumulation of spending power, even if the Republicans in the Senate have managed to do so:

“Over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history. Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. “

We can quibble about what percentage of domestic spending is attributable to a man’s decision or a woman’s decision, [WSJ]  but the outcome is the same since in 34% of our households the woman is the “breadwinner,” and in an average American household the woman’s earnings constitute approximately 36% of the total household income, an increase from 26% in 1970.  [JECsen]

The changes in household spending and workforce participation between 1901 and 2003 are rather dramatic:

The drama seems to have been missed on the GOP side of the aisle.

It is one thing to argue in favor of some form of imprecise and highly generalized definition of “freedom,” but it is another entirely to argue against the obvious economic implications of practical solutions to problems of workplace equity.

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