Mero Moment: Trump bails on gender wage gap research

Composite image, elements via Pixabay, St. George News

OPINION – Most conservatives do not believe in the gender wage gap. Many do not even believe in the widely cited data showing that women make 82 percent the wages of men – meaning for every dollar a man makes a woman makes 82 cents on that dollar for equal work – and there are good reasons to believe these conservatives are correct to question some facts in the gender wage gap debate.

As the argument goes, these conservative gap deniers point out that men and women doing the same work to the same degree inevitably make the same pay. In fact, as they point out, it is illegal to differentiate pay by gender under those specific circumstances. By contrast, what these conservatives argue is that differences in pay are not due to discrimination but because men and women are often not really doing the same job to the same degree.

A big factor in job pay is experience. Women who choose to split their time between a career and a family might eventually be doing the same job as a man but not to the same degree of experience. This experiential difference between men and women is a bias but it is a natural bias. This natural job bias is not good or bad. It just is. If a woman leaves the workforce for a few years to give birth and raise her family, she naturally has less career experience as a man, as measured by time.

The woman is discriminating in this case, not the employer. That said, there are plenty of women with less experience who can do the same job better than a man – and vice versa. Seat time, if you will, should not be the measure of an employee. But seat time does factor into any wage gap and anyone who has ever worked for a government knows this. Government and union employees often get pay raises and job progression based on time served.

This evidence does not excuse existing gender wage gaps but it could explain it. Most conservatives believe circumstances explain the gap. Feminists often try to dispel the influence of those circumstances. The result is that we continue to argue over the gender wage gap without a means to better understand this phenomenon.

In the midst of this growing debate, President Obama issued an executive order in 2016 to collect information from businesses connecting wages with gender, race and ethnicity. The Trump administration has abandoned that order in the name of fewer regulations. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is required to follow guidelines in the Paperwork Reduction Act. This act proscribes the type and amount of paperwork businesses and the general public must endure. Trump’s OMB now has said that the collection of wage, gender, race and ethnicity data is a burden.

Ivanka Trump has been the president’s primary counselor on gender issues and now supports the elimination of this regulation saying, “Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results.”

And, yet, we still have a debatable issue on our hands. Is there a gender wage gap or not? If there is, what does it look like? If there is, where is it? If there is, what are the circumstances that gave rise to it? And so on.

I tend to agree with conservative skeptics but the possibility remains that both sides are right and I would like to know. While I understand unnecessary regulations burden businesses and taxpayers, perhaps the Trump administration could encourage a comprehensive and conclusive study of the gender wage gap by other means. To kill one of the few ways to gather data on the subject without proposing any alternative just does not make sense.

I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

Paul Mero is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews




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  • bikeandfish September 1, 2017 at 9:54 am

    I applaud Paul’s reasoned and thoughtful response to this recent maneuver by the Trump administration. The federal government needs high quality data to make informed decisions. This handicaps that reality.

    • desertgirl September 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      The government has sorely needed high quality everything for decades. The progressives handicap the ability to fix problems and continue to create more. As a recovered former Democrat, I’m no longer waiting for the Dems who have controlled the Congress the majority of years to live up to their promises for improved education, reducing poverty, so-called women’s rights. I’m not waiting as it was all a lie and they continue to buffalo the ignorant and poor, and, manipulate via socialist media, bad schools from K through college and most egregious; supporting and placing economic system that grows poverty levels. Quality? From the government? rofl

      • bikeandfish September 1, 2017 at 1:01 pm

        Your railing against Democrats may be well earned from your perspective and experience but this is an explicit example of a Republican completely dismantling the information flow on the issue of pay equity. He is doing this with Republican majority control of the Congress and a majority of state governments. So how does your comments about woes of the Democrats have anything to do with this decision? It was an executive order that collected data to answer a question. It was cheaply and easily implemented by businesses (most payroll system have simple export procedures that can be supplemented with relevant demographic data).

        This is exactly what we talk about when we describe false equivalences. If we keep going down the partisan rabbit hole as citizens then no government official will ever be held accountable to addressing and solving problems that afflict our country.

  • John September 1, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Want to solve the problems with the government ? Drain the swamp ! That will be the perfect place to start because most of the problems we have are caused by the self serving politicians of both parties, rampant corruption and racial profiling by both parties, and gerrymandering to protect their seats. It has to stop. Term limits are a necessity. Then and only then can an honest assessment of wages occur. As long as there are politicians campaigning on issues that only exist in the minds of the constituents because the politician tells them it’s an issue in order to gain support to be re-elected and then do nothing about it has got to stop. the corruption is more rampant than you think

    • ladybugavenger September 1, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      Yes to term limits!

      • bikeandfish September 1, 2017 at 8:39 pm

        I think alot of us like that idea but how do you make it happen? SCOTUS ruled decades ago that states could not impose a term limit on their federal representatives. Populist Amendments to create term limits have failed in Congress as late at the 90s. Considering it takes a 2/3 majority of both houses that just seems improbable considering its limiting their own power.

        Constitutional Congress? That seems like it will never happen again in this country without the end to political sniping that is so pervasive now.

        But those are the only ways to make it happen.

  • commonsense September 1, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Wages, like commerce, should be free market.
    Government intervention to manipulate anything economic is a huge mistake. Women and men are worth what markets are willing to pay.

    I had a male partner and a female partner and the productivity of the woman was a magnitude less. Many women are not the primary bread winners so motivation is less.

    The notion of “comparable” is vague at best.
    In some cases a woman is clearly better and should be compensated accordingly.

    If you believe in free market economics, then just let market forces determine compensation. In Utah, women in the work force are clearly an after thought in many cases.

  • ffwife September 1, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    The government was never intended by our founders to be in the middle of ALL of the PEOPLES business!

  • dodgers September 2, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Glad president Trump killed the research. We’re over 20 trillion in debt and continue to run massive annual deficits. Time to cut a LOT of government spending AND government. It’s a bloated and wasteful bureaucracy that is long out of control and is too often in places it doesn’t belong. Kudos to our president.

  • commonsense September 2, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Please keep the government out of private free enterprise. It always ends badly. Free markets will find who is productive and who is not.

    Downsize government so the glut of public employees will be reduced and never pay public employees more than they would receive in the private sector, man or woman. This includes teachers. It is an unnecessary drain of taxpayers and is bankrupting state governments.

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