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President Joe Biden on Equal Pay Day in 2021 with Megan Rapinoe. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Biden to announce plan closing federal worker racial and gender pay gap on Equal Pay Day

According to Department of Labor statistics, Hispanic women lost $46.7 billion in wages in 2019.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022 is Equal Pay Day, a date that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. 

Equal Pay Day was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness campaign to illustrate the gender wage gap. 

To commemorate this important day, the Biden administration will announce a plan of action to close the gender and racial gaps for federal workers.

The plan includes a new regulation across the federal workforce banning the use of previous salary history in the hiring and pay-setting process for employees. 

According to a White House fact sheet, this will serve to “break the cycle of past arbitrary and potentially discriminatory pay that can follow women and workers of color from job to job.” 

“While we should celebrate the progress we have made, as I have said in the past, we should not be satisfied until Equal Pay Day is no longer necessary at all,” Biden said in a proclamation on Monday, March 14. 

In Monday’s proclamation, Biden also repeated calls for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which failed to clear the Senate last year. 

Biden said it would “help mitigate sex-based pay discrimination while ensuring greater transparency and reporting of disparities in wages.” 

According to Department of Labor estimates released Tuesday, Black women lost $39.3 billion and Hispanic women lost $46.7 billion in wages in 2019 compared with their white male counterparts, due to their participation in what the department calls “low-wage sectors,” such as caregiving and hospitality. 

The Biden administration also wants to fight against occupational segregation to allow women more access to well-paying jobs, which tend to be male-dominated. 

Last October, the administration issued its first-ever national gender strategy to advance the “full participation of all people” in the U.S. and around the world.

One of the strategic priorities included ensuring that all people have access to good jobs, by addressing systemic barriers and gender discrimination. 

Also on Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a virtual White House summit, featuring Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja, as well as current and former members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. 

After years of advocacy, the U.S. Women’s National Team reached a $24 million agreement last month over an equal pay dispute. 

The dispute dated back to a March 2019 gender-discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, which was resolved with both parties agreeing to equal rates of pay for women’s and men’s national teams. 

"The U.S. Women's National Team players have achieved unprecedented success while working to achieve equal pay for themselves and future athletes,” both parties said in a joint statement last month.

Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and Harris will speak at the virtual event, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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