Cities Are Fighting to Close the Pay Gap – But States Are Standing in the Way

NLC Research Director Christy McFarland discusses how state preemption of local authority may be adding to the gender wage gap.

NLC’s report City Rights in an Era of Preemption analyzed state preemption of local authority across seven key issue areas, including paid leave and minimum wage.

The full version of this post can be found on Route Fifty.

Tuesday – dubbed Equal Pay Day – symbolizes roughly how many days into the new year that women must work to earn what men did the previous year. As grassroots efforts and awareness activities take place across the country, cities are working every day to find innovative solutions that address the discrepancy.

From Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, to Morristown, New Jersey, and Santa Monica, California, cities are recognizing the need for policies that help close the persistent wage gap between men and women. And in the latest effort by cities to address the pay divide, the city of Philadelphia unanimously passed a law that bans employers from asking about wage history.

Nationally, though, women are still at a disadvantage, making 80 cents to every dollar of male earnings. Historical discrimination facing women in the workplace, as well as social expectations and the “motherhood penalty” are contributing factors.

Given the scale and multidimensional nature of the challenge, cities are confronting it on a variety of fronts, from salary history bans to minimum wage ordinances to paid leave laws. These efforts, however, are often thwarted by state actions against cities.

Read the full piece on Route Fifty.

About the author: Christiana K. McFarland is NLC’s research director. Follow Christy on Twitter at @ckmcfarland.