FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Advance Pay Equity on the 15th Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Advance Pay Equity on the 15th Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

President Biden and Vice President Harris have long championed equal pay as a cornerstone of their commitment to ensuring opportunity and fairness for all workers. Closing gender and racial wage gaps is essential to ensuring that women and people of color can fully participate in the labor force. This past year, the gender pay gap was the lowest on record. Despite the progress we have made, the fight for equal pay continues. Today, women workers are still paid on average 84 cents for every dollar paid to men, and the disparities are even greater for many women of color. These inequities can add up to millions of dollars lost over the course of a lifetime.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to making the federal government a model employer and closing persistent wage gaps to help grow and strengthen our economy. That’s why the President has issued two Executive Orders aimed at advancing pay equity for both the federal workforce and employees of federal contractors. Today, to implement those Executive Orders, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions to:

  • Advance pay equity for federal workers. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is issuing a final rule ensuring that more than 80 federal agencies will no longer consider an individual’s current or past pay when determining the salaries of federal employees. Ending the use of salary history in pay-setting decisions is a proven way to help curb pay discrimination that can follow workers from job to job and ensure that salaries are based on applicants’ skills, experience, and expertise.
  • Promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in federal contracting by advancing pay equity and pay transparency. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council is issuing a proposal to prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from seeking and considering information about job applicants’ compensation history when hiring or setting pay for personnel working on or in connection with a government contract. In addition, the proposal would require federal contractors and subcontractors to disclose expected salary ranges in job postings, a policy that has been shown to reduce pay secrecy, help workers negotiate, and reduce pay gaps. These proposed policies would help federal contractors recruit, diversify, and retain talent; improve job satisfaction and performance; and reduce turnover—all factors associated with promoting the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of the federal contractor workforce.
  • Affirm equal pay obligations for federal contractors. The Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is issuing guidance clarifying existing protections against discrimination in hiring or pay decisions. The new guidance will help federal contractors and current and prospective contractor employees understand when reliance on an individual’s compensation history for hiring or pay decisions may result in unlawful discrimination.

Today’s announcements build on previous actions the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to close wage gaps and strengthen women’s economic security, which has led to the lowest unemployment rate among women since 1953. These actions include:

  • Ensuring women have access to good-paying jobs being created by the President’s Investing in America agenda. Biden-Harris Administration investments through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) have increased access to good-paying jobs, including for women, people of color, and members of other communities currently underrepresented in the sectors where these jobs are being created, such as clean energy, construction, and manufacturing. These include:

o    Launching the Good Jobs Initiative. DOL’s Good Jobs Initiative provides critical information to workers, employers, and government to improve job quality, empower workers, and ensure workers, especially those from underserved communities, can access good union jobs free from discrimination and harassment. The Initiative is dedicated to advancing the Departments of Labor and Commerce’s Good Jobs Principles, which address recruitment and hiring, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and pay. The Departments of Transportation, Energy, Commerce, and Interior, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and General Services Administration, have signed memoranda of understanding with DOL to support the Good Jobs Initiative, promote equitable workforce development, and ensure workers have what they need to deliver on the once-in-a-generation Investing in America agenda.

o    Expanding access to good-paying construction jobs. To ensure women can access the almost 200,000 new construction jobs expected from the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments, the Department of Commerce launched the Million Women in Construction initiative, which calls on chip manufacturers, construction companies and unions to bring one million women into the construction industry over the next decade, roughly doubling women’s representation in the industry. DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs also launched the Mega Construction Project (Megaproject) Program, which fosters equal opportunity on designated BIL- and CHIPS-funded construction projects through intensive on-the-ground assistance to remove hiring barriers and promote consideration of a diverse pool of qualified workers, including women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities.

o    Improving access to child care for the semiconductor workforce through CHIPS and Science Act implementation requirements. The Department of Commerce’s implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act included a historic requirement that applicants requesting over $150 million in direct funding submit plans to provide accessible, affordable, high-quality child care.

  • Increasing access to affordable care and supporting caregivers. Access to affordable, high-quality care is essential to ensuring parents, especially moms, can participate fully in the workforce. From day one, the Biden-Harris Administration has focused on ways to lower child care costs for hardworking families and improve wages for child care workers. The ARP Child Care Stabilization program delivered historic support to over 225,000 child care programs serving as many as 10 million children across the country. Over 90% of the child care programs that have received assistance are women-owned. The Council of Economic Advisors found that this stabilization funding supported savings for families with young children, raised the real wages of child care workers, and helped hundreds of thousands of women with young children enter or re-enter the workforce.

In addition, in April 2023, President Biden signed an Executive Order with more than 50 directives to nearly every cabinet-level agency to increase access to affordable, high-quality care and boost job quality for early educators and long-term care workers, who are disproportionately women of color. Among the many actions agencies have taken, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed key changes to federal child care assistance to reduce child care payments for nearly 80,000 working families.

  • Increasing the minimum wage. The President issued Executive Orders directing the Administration to work toward ensuring that employees working on federal contracts and federal employees earned a $15 per hour minimum wage. Those directives went into effect in January 2022, raising the wages of about 370,000 federal employees and employees of federal contractors. In addition to helping the government do its work more efficiently, these directives take a step towards narrowing racial and gender disparities in income, as many low-wage workers are women and people of color. The order also eliminates the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities on federal contracts. The President has called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, so that American workers can have a job that delivers dignity and to make greater strides towards pay equity.
  • Supporting women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Small Business Administration-backed loans to women-owned small businesses are up more than 60 percent, totaling $5.1 billion in lending to women-owned businesses in FY23.And a new report out this month found that from 2019 to 2023, women’s small business formation surged, substantially outpacing overall formation. This Administration has invested nearly $70 million in the Women Business Centers (WBC) network, expanding it for the first time into all 50 states and tripling the number of WBCs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions. President Biden also invested $10 billion through the ARP State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to help States, territories, and Tribal governments leverage tens of billions more in matching public and private dollars to support small businesses across the United States, with a particular focus on historically underserved entrepreneurs, including women business owners. The ARP Restaurant Revitalization Fund helped over 40,000 women-owned restaurants and bars—thanks in part to steps taken by the Administration to ensure that women-owned and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses were able to access assistance.