Pay Equity: The Minnesota Experience
Message from the Director
A question to ponder: if the law of the land has been “equal pay for equal work” since the 1960s, why is there still a gender pay gap? Because women and men seldom do the same or equal work, so these laws often can’t be invoked.
Over thirty years ago, Minnesota took unprecedented steps to make equal pay a reality for women employed by Minnesota’s state and local governments, pioneering the concept of “pay equity,” which in Minnesota is synonymous with “comparable worth.” Pay equity means that dissimilar jobs that are comparable in terms of value to an employer should receive essentially comparable wages. Quantitative systems have been developed that assess the relative value of jobs according to amount of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions required.
Minnesota’s State Government Pay Equity Law was passed in 1982, covering about 35,000 state employees. Our Local Government Pay Equity Law was passed in 1984, covering 1,500 jurisdictions—cities, counties, school districts, and others—with an estimated 220,000 employees.
The last report on the results of Minnesota’s pay equity laws was done in 1994. OESW has just completed an updated review of our state and local government pay equity programs. How are they functioning? Have they eliminated the gender pay gap? What additional measures are recommended?
We hope you find this newsletter interesting and informative. Its purpose is to provide information to legislators, legislative staff, and the community on priority and emerging women's economic issues. Please send us your suggestions to [email protected] and visit our Facebook Page and Twitter.
Barbara Battiste, Director, Office on the Economic Status of Women