Pass the Women’s Economic Security Act

Recent equal pay legislation would help adjust wages fairly and benefit Minnesota’s economy.

Minnesota may take a big step forward on pay equality if the state Legislature passes the Women’s Economic Security Act.

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs Center on Women and Public Policy supported the bill with its own research. Minnesota women currently make 80 cents to their male counterparts’ dollar, according to the Humphrey School’s report.

The bill would enforce equal pay laws for businesses with state contracts over $500,000. It would also provide a new grant program that aims to increase the number of women in high-wage, high-demand and nontraditional occupations, the Minnesota Daily reported last week.

The House passed the bill Wednesday. The Senate will vote on it in the coming weeks.

Opponents of the bill claim it would affect the bottom line of Minnesota businesses, but research from the Humphrey School found that if efforts narrow the gender pay gap, the state’s economy would benefit because female workers would be earning and spending more money.

It’s particularly important that we narrow the pay gap as more women become the primary providers for their families. Unequal pay not only hurts women, but it also negatively affects families.

A similar equal pay bill is making its way through Congress, but lawmakers rejected it earlier this month. We are grateful that our state lawmakers passed an equal pay bill in the House with bipartisan support.

It’s fortunate that the University has been able to provide integral research and advocacy for the Women’s Economic Security Act, and we hope the Senate considers the Humphrey School’s research and brings the bill to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.