Labor Secretary: Single Moms, Disabled Women, Minority Women Not 'Getting the Pay They Deserve'

Susan Jones | April 18, 2012 | 6:39am EDT
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Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis gives a thumbs up on Oct. 20, 2011 at a press conference to announce a partnership between Facebook and the DOL to help Americans find jobs. ( Starr)

( - Marking "Equal Pay Day" on April 17, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis called it an opportunity to "reflect on the challenges that millions of women — particularly those of color, single mothers and women with disabilities — continue to face in securing the pay they deserve."

Solis argued that because women often find themselves as their family's primary breadwinner, they should be paid more:

"In almost two-thirds of families led by single mothers or two parents, mothers are either the primary or co-breadwinner," Solis said. "Pay equity is not simply a question of fairness; it is an economic imperative with serious implications not just for women, but for their families, their communities and our nation."

Solis said closing the pay gap requires closing the "information gap." She credited the Labor Department's Women's Bureau for hosting a series of dialogues across the country "to make sure women are educated about their worth and empowered to advocate for it."

The Labor Department say Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2012 women must work, just to earn what men earned in 2011.  In other words, it supposedly takes women 15-and-a-half months to earn what men earn in 12 months.

Solis says she's proud of the steps the Labor Department has taken to "close the pay gap."

Those steps include working with researchers and others to make wage information readily accessible to workers via the Internet; and identifying and eliminating gender-based discrimination among federal contractors.

Last year, the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs says it successfully resolved 134 cases of employment discrimination affecting women and minorities, resulting in more than $12 million in remedies for those claiming discrimination.

According to the Labor Department, women now make up almost half of the nation's workforce, and 60 percent of women work full time outside of the home.

Solis is urging all Americans to renew their commitment to “advancing the progress of working women and their families.”

“Let us continue to pursue pay equity with both passion and determination," she said.

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