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This article was originally published in the February 2014 issue of New Jersey Lawyer Magazine, a publication of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and is reprinted here with permission.

Legal and Policy Issues Impacting Pay Equity

In 2011, the average earnings for all women in the U.S. employed full-time was $38,685, compared to the average annual earnings of $50,316 for all men employed full-time. Lawyers might assume that, as degreed, professional advocates, they have made a swift closing of any gap in the ranks, but that assumption would be false. In 2012, women lawyers made 79.6 percent of male lawyers’ salaries. Economists have posited that closing the wage gap would stimulate the economy and raise the gross domestic product (GDP) by anywhere from two to nine percent.  There is some statistical support for this theory. In 1964, the GDP was $664 billion;4 by 2011, it had risen to $15.321 trillion.  The higher the GDP, the more money individuals have to strengthen U.S.  businesses as consumers, investors and creators. Over that same period, women’s participation in the U.S. labor force increased from 37.7 percent (in 1960)6—when they earned roughly 58 cents to the male dollar—to 58.6 percent in 2010—when women earned 81 cents to the male dollar. So what causes the gender wage gap and why haven’t laws eliminated it? This article provides a historical review of policy
issues impacting the gender wage gap.

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