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Washington Post Fact Checks Obama Again on Gender Pay Gap…and Reaches a Harsher Conclusion


"It’s time for a reassessment.”

President Barack Obama speaks about the shooting at Fort Hood, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Barack Obama gets a raise for again decrying the state of women’s pay, claiming they earn just 77 cents for every $1 a man is paid.

President Barack Obama is flanked by Lilly Ledbetter (L) and other women while signing an executive order banning federal contractors from retaliating against employees during an event in the East Room of the White House in honor of 'Equal Pay Day' on April 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama announced that his administration will strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women. Mark Wilson/Getty Images 

The raise is from "one Pinocchio" to two.

The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" awarded Obama “one Pinocchio” out of a possible four for claiming this during his 2012 re-election campaign, and called the president out again for repeating it in his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union addresses. But after delivering a special East Room address at the White House Tuesday, the Post said Obama just “keeps using it. So now it’s time for a reassessment.”

The Post said it considered giving Obama a more severe ranking for dishonesty, but conceded the 77 cents figure does have a basis in U.S. Census Bureau data.

“Thus we are boosting the rating on this factoid to Two Pinocchios,” the Post's Glenn Kessler wrote. “We were tempted to go one step further to Three Pinocchios, but the president is relying on an official government statistic–and there are problems and limitations with the other calculations as well.”

The Post said the census figure is golden from a political perspective, but is only a snapshot of the overall average and not a comparison of men and women working the same job.

“Unless women stop getting married and having children, and start abandoning careers in childhood education for naval architecture, this huge gap in wages will almost certainly persist,” Kessler wrote. “Democrats thus can keep bringing it up every two years.”

The Post was clear that there is a pay disparity.

“There appears to be some sort of wage gap and closing it is certainly a worthy goal. But it’s a bit rich for the president to repeatedly cite this statistic as an ‘embarrassment,’” Kessler wrote. “The president must begin to acknowledge that average annual wages does not begin to capture what is actually happening in the work force and society.”

During the White House event Tuesday, Obama said the pay disparity was an outrage in 2014.

“Today, the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns; for African American women, Latinas, it’s even less, and in 2014, that’s an embarrassment,” Obama said. “It is wrong and this is not just an issue of fairness. It’s also a family issue and an economic issue, because women make up about half of our workforce and they’re increasingly the breadwinners for a whole lot of families out there. So when they make less money, it means less money for gas, less money for groceries, less money for child care, less money for college tuition, less money is going into retirement savings.”

In explaining the facts of the claim of a 23 cent wage gap, the Post said the administration is using census data for the biggest disparity. However, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics show the gap is if 19 cents or women are paid 81 cents for every $1 a man earns. For hourly workers, women are paid 86 cents for every $1 a man earns, according to the BLS.

Further, women who do not get married earn 96 cents for every $1 a man earns.

The Post also referenced a 2013 Georgetown University survey that found that nine of the 10 most lucrative fields are dominated by male employees.

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