News Briefs

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Friday it would require businesses with at least 100 employees to submit detailed pay data by gender, race and ethnicity in an effort to find firms that are “unlawfully shortchanging workers.”

A main focus of the new rules, which would take effect Sept. 30, 2017, was to advance efforts to ensure women are paid the same as men for doing the same job, as required by federal law.

The White House said that the median annual wage for a woman working full time was $39,600, 79 percent the median wage for a man, though some critics have said that generalized figure overstates the difference.

Though the gap has “narrowed slightly” the past two years, it is still too wide, the White House said.

Friday’s move expands on a 2014 executive order that the Labor Department collect wage data by gender, race and ethnicity from federal contractors.

Now the EEOC proposes that all employers with at least 100 workers submit the data across 10 job categories and 12 pay ranges on a form they already are required to submit annually that includes employment data by gender, race and ethnicity.

Specific salaries would not have to be reported, and the data are not public.

The data would be analyzed by the EEOC to better focus investigations into unlawful pay practices, the White House said.

Fox News draws 12.5 million viewers with Trump-free Republican debate

The ratings for Fox News Channel’s Republican presidential primary debate took an expected hit from Donald Trump’s decision not to participate in the event, staged Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa.

The debate, which fell four days before the state’s nominating caucuses, averaged 12.5 million viewers from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time. It was the second-smallest audience of the seven GOP primary debates and about half of what Fox News scored with its first Republican debate in August.

Even with the decline, the debate attracted the second-largest audience in Fox News’ history and was the most watched program in prime time, according to Nielsen. Trump had predicted the event would be a “total disaster” without him, but the audience exceeded the 11 million who watched his last debate appearance.

Trump, the front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination, took a pass on the night after feuding with Fox over anchor Megyn Kelly. Trump accused Kelly of being unfair during the network’s first debate when she questioned him about derogatory comments he has made about women.

In the days leading up to the debate, Trump’s campaign lobbied Fox to remove Kelly as a moderator. Fox held firm, and Trump decided to skip the event after the network issued a statement that tweaked the candidate over his concern about facing her again.

Trump held his own event — billed as a fundraiser for wounded military veterans — at nearby Drake University and received sporadic live coverage on rival cable news networks CNN and MSNBC. From 9:15 to 10:15 p.m. Eastern time, the two networks had a combined audience of 3.1 million viewers.

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