Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has released a campaign video targeting Virginia’s gender wage gap, but his statements on the issue were said to be greatly exaggerated when examined by state fact checkers.
At the start of the video, McAuliffe says, "Women still earn about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for working the same job."
PolitiFact Virginia, a project of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, judged the statement as "mostly false."
McAuliffe went wrong by stating that the paycheck disparity exists when women are working the "same job," when in actuality many other factors contribute to the 77 cent figure.
As explained by Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the commonly used figure has been exposed as a myth, and even feminist groups are coming around to recognize it.
"How many times have you heard that, for the same work, women receive 77 cents for every dollar a man earns," Sommers asked. "[The American Association of University Women] has now joined ranks with serious economists who find that when you control for relevant differences between men and women (occupations, college majors, length of time in workplace) the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing."
Economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also say that demonstrating paycheck disparity for workers performing the same job would be impossible to do.
According to BLS economist Karen Kosanovich, even BLS’ most specific income categorization that compares incomes of workers in the same industry, it would be impossible to really determine who was performing the same job.
As an example, Kosanovich explains that in a data set comparing salaries of men and women in the category of "physicians and surgeons," it would not be possible to determine who was a cardiologist, a surgeon, or the head of a department, and therefore unfair to say that any of them were performing the same job.
It is commonplace for Democrats to misuse the figure.
President Barack Obama also received a "mostly false" rating last year for stating in an ad that "women are paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men."
McAuliffe has made women the main target of his campaign, with one of his campaign offices adopting the slogan, "When women vote, Democrats win."
Additionally, the Democratic National Committee, of which McAuliffe used to be chairman, has been found to pay its female employees far less than their male counterparts.