Obama calls on Congress to hike minimum wage, close gender pay gap

Stressing that much more work must be done to promote pay fairness in the American economy, President Obama on Monday called on Congress to both raise the minimum wage and take further action to ensure women and men are paid equally for the same work.

“Now is the time for Congress to step up and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. … Now is the time to make sure that we are putting in place a minimum wage that you can live on,” Mr. Obama said during remarks in the White House as part of an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.

Signed by President Kennedy in 1963, the law was designed to close paycheck disparities between the sexes, but women still routinely earn less than their male counterparts. The Paycheck Fairness Act, its supporters say, is the next step in closing that gap, but the measure has failed in Congress each time it has been introduced.

Mr. Obama also reiterated his position that the minimum wage, currently $7.25, must be increased to at least $9. The minimum wage was last increased — from $6.55 an hour to the current level — in July 2009.

Since coming to office, the president has made pay equality a centerpiece issue. The first bill he signed into law in January 2009 was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, giving women enhanced rights to sue employers for wage discrimination.

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