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By Eric Stirgus April 21, 2014

Carter's pay gap claim strays off track

What about Jason?

That was the question one of our Twitter followers had for us shortly after we rated former President Jimmy Carter’s claim that women make 23 percent less than men for doing the same work Mostly False.

Hasn’t Carter’s grandson Jason, a state senator from DeKalb County and Democratic candidate for governor, been saying the same thing?

"What will @PolitiFactGA say about @carter4governor repeating the same falsehood as his grandpappy?" asked the political website, Georgia Unfiltered.

We decided to take a look.

Many Democrats have complained about a gender pay gap in what some analysts say is an effort to increase support among women as the congressional elections take place this fall.

On April 8, Jason Carter’s Twitter account had a message about the pay gap.

"Women are paid 77¢ for every $1 men get for the same work. (Retweet) if you agree women should get equal pay for equal work," it said.

Carter posted a similar message on his Facebook campaign page the same day.

"Women are still paid 77 cents for every dollar that men make for doing the same work. That's not OK. Share if you agree we should have equal pay for equal work," it read.

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Some questioned Carter’s claim on his Twitter page, while others backed him up.

So is candidate Carter correct? We believe, like his grandfather, part of his statements clouded the accuracy of his claim.

The claims by Jason Carter and others stem from a U.S. Census Bureau survey released in 2011. The study found women’s total wages were about 23 percent lower than the total amount of men's wages. But that large discrepancy was due in part to the fact that men generally work more hours. The study did not attempt to look at equal pay for the same work or the same number of hours worked.

Other data -- including hourly wages tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as data comparing the same jobs -- yield smaller wage gaps.

The number does not take into account critical factors that could influence the figure, including specific occupation, time on the job and education level.

And the gap drops dramatically if you compare men and women of similar education levels, job titles, time on the job and other relevant factors.

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis cited one survey, prepared for the Labor Department. It found that when such differences are accounted for, much of the hourly wage gap vanished. It shrinks to the low single digits.

President Barack Obama, himself, made a verbal misstep on the campaign trail in 2012 when he said "women (are) paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men." Our colleagues at PolitiFact in Washington rated that statement Mostly False for many of the same reasons we gave the same rating to the former president.

Perhaps seeing the trouble with that statement, Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address that women "make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns." That statement is more in line with the U.S. Census Bureau study because the president did not say that women were doing the same work and being underpaid. PolitiFact found other research that showed a smaller pay gap. PolitiFact rated Obama’s revised statement Mostly True.

Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for Carter, told us via email that the candidate "believes it's wrong that women get paid less than men and is the candidate in this race who wants to do something to fix that problem."

To sum up, Jason Carter said women were being paid 77 cents for every $1 men received for the same work. The widely cited U.S. Census Bureau study, though, did not attempt to look at equal pay for the same work or the same number of hours worked. Other federal data show smaller gaps when considering the specific occupation, time on the job and educational levels.

Carter’s statements omit many of these factors. We rate it Mostly False.

Our Sources

Jason Carter Twitter post, April 8, 2014.

Email from Bryan Thomas, spokesman for Jason Carter for Governor, April 16, 2014.

Jason Carter for Governor Facebook page, April 8, 2014.

PolitiFact, "Barack Obama ad says women are paid "77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men," June 21, 2012.

PolitiFact, "Barack Obama, in State of the Union, says women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns," Jan. 29, 2014.

PolitiFact Georgia, "Carter exaggerates gender pay gap," April 4, 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau study, "Income, Povery and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010," September 2011.

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