Carpe Diem

Gender pay gap at the White House of 13.3% exposes Obama’s hypocrisy on the gender pay gap nationally

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The White House released its annual report to Congress on 2014 White House Staff Salaries yesterday and Zachary A. Goldfarb of the Washington Post analyzed the data and found a gender pay gap of 13% based on the difference between the average White House male staffer salary of $88,600 and the average female salary of $78,400. A few issues and comments about the Washington Post article:

1. Comparisons of salaries by gender (or ethnic groups) almost always use median salaries, not average salaries.

2. Calculating gender gaps/disparities usually compares the ratio of average/median salaries. In this case, the female-male salary ratio for the Washington Post’s data of averages would be $78,400 / $88,600, for a salary ratio of 88.5%, and a gender gap of 11.5%, not the 13% reported by the Post.

3. My own detailed analysis of the 2014 White House Staff Salaries reveals the following:

a. There are 230 female White House staffers earning an average salary of $79,137 (not $78,400 as the Post is reporting) and a median salary of $65,650.

b. There are 224 male White House staffers earning an average salary of $87,353 (not $88,600 as the Post reported) and a median salary of $75,750.

c. Using median 2014 White House salaries, female staffers currently earn 86.7% of the median salary for men, or 86.7 cents for every $1 men earn (see chart above). That would mean that there is currently a 13.3% gender pay gap at the White House.

The Washington Post did offer this caveat:

The Post calculated the averages on pay disparity after determining the gender of employees through their names and basic research. A few employees could not be identified by gender, but their inclusion in the data would not have changed the overall findings.

Although challenging, I am fairly confident that I was able to correctly identify the gender of each of the 454 White House employees, which explains the minor differences in my salary statistics and the Post’s statistics since I am using all 454 employees and the Post’s report is based on a slightly smaller number of employees.

What’s more important than the minor differences between my analysis and the Post’s, are the facts that: a) a persistent gender pay at the White House exists, b) the 13.3% pay gap this year at the White House is not likely the result of gender discrimination, and c) the findings of gender pay gaps in the general economy or at specific organizations are also not likely the result of gender discrimination. While Obama and gender activists constantly lecture us about gender pay gaps nationally, with the assumption that any pay gap results from gender discrimination, the persistent gender pay at Obama’s own White House exposes the White House hypocrisy. If a 13.3% pay gap at the Obama White House results from factors having nothing to do with gender discrimination, isn’t is possible that the national gender pay gaps also have nothing to do with discrimination? That is, if a 13.3% White House gender pay gap can be explained by factors other than discrimination, can’t a similar gender pay gap, if it exists at Target, Ford or ExxonMobil, also be explained by factors other than discrimination?

CNN reporter Michelle Kosinski appeared to understand the White House hypocrisy today when she grilled White House spokesman Josh Earnest with the following comments and questions:

On middle class issues and equal pay for equal work — whenever these numbers come out concerning the White House — it keeps coming up repeatedly that the metric that the White House cites for there being a gender pay gap nationwide also exists at the White House….

The White House’s response, of course, is when you look at the salary numbers for equal pay for equal work, which should be at the heart of this, it is equal [at the White House]. So do you think that that comparison, then, is one that should not be made, using salary averages [or medians] — whether you apply average salaries to the country as a whole or to salary averages the White House?

Josh Earnest responded:

There are a variety of measures to try to get at whether or not workers are receiving equal pay for equal work. You can look at whether individuals who hold the same title make the same salary. That’s certainly the case at the White House. So there is equal pay for equal work that is demonstrated here at the White House.

MP: In other words, when Obama claims that there’s a gender pay gap crisis nationally that needs more of his legislation (“President Obama knows that women being paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men isn’t just unfair, it hurts families. So the first law he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help ensure that women are paid the same as men for doing the exact same work.”) he uses aggregate salary statistics to claim that there’s a pay gap based on gender discrimination. But when the White House defends its own 13.3% gender pay gap, they suddenly want to disregard the aggregate statistics showing a significant gender pay disparity, and start controlling for all of the variables that can explain gender pay differences, except for discrimination.

Team Obama can’t have it both ways, either: a) there are gender pay differences in any organization, including the White House, than can be explained by factors besides gender discrimination and result in natural differences in aggregate median salaries, or b) any gender pay gap in aggregate salaries in any organization immediately exposes gender discrimination — including the White House — and the pay gaps at those organizations can only be addressed by additional legislation and more rigorous enforcement of existing legislation.

Bottom Line: If Obama applied his typical approach of comparing aggregate salaries to detect discrimination, he would have to admit ongoing gender discrimination at the White House. Alternatively, if a 13.3% gender pay gap at the White House can be explained by factors other than discrimination, Obama should stop using aggregate salary statistics to lecture us about a gender pay gap crisis at the national level

27 thoughts on “Gender pay gap at the White House of 13.3% exposes Obama’s hypocrisy on the gender pay gap nationally

  1. I believe that within both arguments there is a fallacy. Are every single person in the study equal as far as education, experience, etc.? If not, than who cares about any gap.

  2. i fear that the political caveat of our time (if we are being honest) is:

    “i am a low information voter, and i am confused by this message”

  3. I fail to see why Dr. Perry claiming that discrimination isn’t a factor in the wage gap makes any more sense than the Administration claiming that it is a factor. The real story — the only story — that can be drawn from the numbers presented in this piece is that White House’s pay gap is smaller than that for the economy in general. Big deal. Such analyses are a waste of time and add nothing to the wage gap conversation.

    • greenblue thus concedes that income disparity is very evident in the leftist WH — but not a “Big deal”.

      • Great! Then both the White House and the DC area in general score better than average. That’s what I would expect — and I say that without knowing which job categories are included in the DC numbers and which are not. You know, Dr. Perry, I can excuse a Washington Post reporter for finding a large degree of policy relevance in the WH numbers, but an economist with a PhD? And, I’m saying that as a fellow economist with more than 30 years experience analyzing statistics for the federal government.

        • Fine, I’ll stop writing about the gender pay gap at the White House when Obama stops his pay gap hypocrisy – telling us how unfair the national pay gap is and proposing new legislation, when he’s got his own pay gap at the White House.

        • greenblue: And, I’m saying that as a fellow economist with more than 30 years experience analyzing statistics for the federal government.

          You say you are an economist and you may have 30 years analyzing stats but you definitely have a reading comprehension and logical reasoning problem. Many posters here have explained to you that Dr. Perry’s posts on this topic are meant to highlight the hypocrisy of this administration.

          greenblue:I can excuse a Washington Post reporter for finding a large degree of policy relevance in the WH numbers, but an economist with a PhD?

          I would think that the last thing Dr. Perry cares about is whether you can excuse him for his posts. If you are an economist, as you say, then there is no excuse for the lack of understanding displayed in your posts.

          Do you understand what hypocrisy is?

        • A few things:

          You clearly do not understand Mark’s postings on this topic. Go read them again.

          30 years government experience? I wouldn’t go broadcasting that too loudly. You’re apparently responsible for the disastrous state of affairs we now find ourselves in, because you made a hash of your job. You are the problem.

          Mark is providing an exceptional service exposing not only the hypocrisy of this administration, but also their blatant and violent economic ignorance in matters of income mobility, and economic growth.

          The fact that you are unable to properly digest this information, and reach the appropriate logical conclusion – that this administration and its leader are dangerous economic ignoramuses – demonstrates a complete lack of both intelligence and general awareness on your part. You apparently share their willful ignorance.

          It is completely unsurprising that you would work for government, given your massive ignorance. We can only wonder what else you are fully unable to grasp.

          • Substantive leftist reply.

            Why would I feel better?

            The fact that morons like you are in government should scare the living shit out of everyone.

          • Greenblue,

            Mesa could never call you a worse name than you called yourself: a 30 year government employee who analyzed stats.

  4. greenblue: I fail to see why Dr. Perry claiming that discrimination isn’t a factor in the wage gap makes any more sense than the Administration claiming that it is a factor.

    Have you actually read Dr. Perry’s posts on this issue? Or have you just glossed over them?

    Dr. Perry has not claimed anything about why there is a gap in the pay of Whiteh House staffers. All he has done is point out that there is one. His statement was that even in Obama’s own staff there is a wage gap and it is hypocritical of Obama to claim discrimination in the country at large when the gap exists in the White House.

    When the response from the president’s respresentatives was that there are many factors that affect the wages of males/females and the White House wage gap is not because of discrimination, Dr. Perry posted that those many factors are also relevant in the country as a whole and not just the White House. So for Obama to continue claiming that the gap in the country as a whole is due to discrimination is hypocritical.

    You can’t have it both ways, claiming that the gap in your own office is due to many other factors and is not discrimination but that the gap in the rest of country is due to discrimination, this is hypocritical.

  5. Well educated people work in the White House. I doubt anyone who is smart enough to get a job in the Administration would claim that the wage gap is entirely attributable to discrimination.

    I commented on Dr. Perry’s work six months ago. My opinion hasn’t changed. Studying the White House wage gap isn’t the best use of his time. There are more useful things to study.

    • greenblue

      Do you really not understand this issue, or are you just a poor reader? Forget about the wage gap, the issue is big-time Presidential hypocrisy. That’s something we should all be concerned about.

    • Well educated people work in the White House.

      Good one.

      No, they’re not “well-educated” at all, and I contend that most are extremely limited in their mental capacity. All of them are highly economically ignorant.

    • I commented on Dr. Perry’s work six months ago. My opinion hasn’t changed. Studying the White House wage gap isn’t the best use of his time. There are more useful things to study.

      Translation:”Stop pointing out my boyfriend’s rampant demagoguery!”

    • greenblue says: ““…

      Hmmm, OK so where is the Kenyan Kommie Klown’s regime hiding these allegedly ‘well educated‘ people?

      I wonder which one of those well educated people though this would be a good idea?

  6. Oddly enough, you sound like a mindless government drone, which you are.

    I think Mark has his own Godwin’s law about brainless asshats who invoke Fox News.

    I couldn’t care less if you’re offended, idiot.

  7. I’m sure you do, drone.

    He can do whatever he wants with his blog.

    Admonishing Mark for providing economic insight while attempting to bolster your credentials using 30 years of failure is hilarious, and tragic.

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