Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.
What Happened? On this date, 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.
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% 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% from 1980 to 2016 on an inflation-adjusted basis. During that same period, average female wages increased by 28.2%.