The Senate looks at a bill to update the Equal Pay Act of 196

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis attends the National Clean Energy Summit 2.0 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


JEREMY HOBSON: Today, the Senate will take up a bill aimed at making sure men and women receive the same pay for the same work. Supporters are calling it a necessary update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that would force employers to prove they are not discriminating on salaries. Opponents say the law would be a big burden on businesses and that it would lead to a flood of lawsuits.

Let's bring in the U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis who supports the bill. Good morning.

HILDA SOLIS: Good to be with you.

HOBSON: Well, Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act one pay discrimination back in 2009. There are other legal protections to deal with pay discrepancies between men and women. Why do we need the Paycheck Fairness Act?

SOLIS: What's really important to understand here is that women still earn only $.70 on the dollar compared to men. And for African American women, it's $.69, for Latinas it is $.60. So what we're looking at here is really trying to create a level playing field, and actually having the government help provide support -- data collection -- so that we could really look across the board to see where these inequities exist.

HOBSON: Congress is also looking at extending jobless benefits for millions of unemployed workers. What do you think happens if they don't extend those benefits?

SOLIS: It's going to be terrible. If this is not extended and it will actually terminate at the end of the month, you will see about 2 million people that will be impacted. And keep in mind, it isn't just a number, it isn't just a faceless person. It can be a woman with children, it could be a family, it can mean a very harsh, harsh holiday season for many people.

HOBSON: Quickly, how long do you think before we get below eight percent unemployment?

SOLIS: I don't have a crystal ball, but in the last 10 months we've created well over 1.1 million private sector jobs. Right now I think we're on the right course in terms of jobs that are added every single month.

HOBSON: Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor. Thanks so much for talking with us.

SOLIS: Thank you. Buh-bye.


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