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This Day In Market History: JFK Signs Equal Pay Act Of 1963

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This Day In Market History: JFK Signs Equal Pay Act Of 1963

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened?

On this day 56 years ago, U.S. President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

Where The Market Was

The Dow closed at 716.49. The S&P 500 traded at around 69.94. Today, the Dow is trading at 26,170 and the S&P 500 is trading at 2,898.

What Else Was Going On In The World?

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary officially closed. A gallon of gasoline cost 29 cents.

Outlawing Gender Pay Discrimination

In 1963, the average American working woman earned 62.3 percent of the comparable earnings of a man doing the same job. The Equal Pay Act was part of Kennedy’s plan to end gender discrimination in the U.S. economy.

The Equal Pay Act made it illegal for companies to pay female workers less than male workers based only on their sex. The act stated that paying women less than men artificially depresses wages for all workers, prevents the economy from operating at maximum efficiency, obstructs commerce by triggering labor disputes and creates an unfairly competitive labor environment.

Since the passage of the Equal Pay Act made it illegal for U.S. employers to discriminate against women, the difference between the average pay of American female workers and male workers has steadily declined. According to Pew Research, the average wages of full- and part-time male U.S. workers declined 0.9 percent from 1980 to 2016 on an inflation-adjusted basis. During that same period, average female wages increased by 28.2 percent.

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