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I knew it. Biden doesn't hire women!

The White House’s Gender Pay Gap

An analysis says women working for Biden earn 80 cents on the dollar.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Aug. 7, 2023 6:38 pm ET

President Biden claims to fight for women, but the gender pay gap this year at the White House is a whopping 20%, according to a recent analysis of official data. The median man on Mr. Biden’s staff earns $105,000, while the median woman gets only $84,000. What happened to Mr. Biden’s progressive notions of “equity”?

Allow us to help the White House out here. The explanation is that people are complicated. We don’t think Mr. Biden is guilty of rampant sexism in employment. But the White House numbers are a teaching moment, since they mirror how Mr. Biden and his fellow Democrats frequently abuse aggregate statistics to criticize businesses.

The pay figures are from the White House’s recent annual personnel report to Congress, a table that includes hundreds of names, titles and salaries. Mark Perry, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, did the detail work to extract the data and categorize employees by gender. His conclusion is that the median woman working for Mr. Biden earns 80 cents for each $1 paid to the median man.

How can this be, since the salaries are public and people with equal titles get equal pay? The answer is that there’s a composition effect: Among 269 female and 179 male White House staff in Mr. Perry’s spreadsheet, there are more women in lower-paid roles such as staff assistant. Other women are at the top: Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and eight others are listed with salaries of $180,000. But the overall distribution is what affects the median.

Make sense? Well, yes, but in every other context progressives pretend they don’t understand this basic reality of aggregate data. Consider a blog post this summer by the Council of Economic Advisers (!), which was tied to the 60th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. “In 2022,” it said, “among all wage and salary workers usually working full-time, a woman made just 83 cents for every dollar paid to a man.”

Wait, if Mr. Biden pays only 80 cents on the dollar, does that mean his White House is three percentage points more structurally sexist than the labor market writ large? We’d love to hear his reply to that one, since Mr. Biden’s rhetoric about “equity” leaves no room for nuance.

The better view, the one reflecting reality, is that this mode of analysis is flawed. Many trends feed into the aggregate wage gap, including people’s free choices. To take one example, more than 90% of workplace deaths in 2021 were men, and dangerous jobs like repairing power lines command a wage premium.

The recent misguided comment on the pay gap from the Council of Economic Advisers goes on to argue that “women with postsecondary degrees face a larger penalty than the overall pay gap.” But what degrees?

The range in graduate education is massive, from a master’s in social work, to a medical or law degree, to a Ph.D in bioengineering. Lumping all these people together and then cutting the data set by gender is not a way to understand what’s truly going on in the world. If it were, feminists should be running Mr. Biden out of town on a rail.

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