September 24, 2015

US gender pay gap at its lowest ever level, but change remains slow

The pay gap between men and women in the US is at an all-time low—but has not significantly changed in six years, according to the latest figures.

The latest income and poverty report from the US Census Bureau shows that, in 2014, women working full-time earned 78.6% as much as men in similar jobs. This represents a slight decrease on the 2013 figure, when the figure was 77.6%.  
While the gap is at its lowest since 1960, it has not changed significantly since 2007, when it stood at 77.8%.
According to analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) think tank, at the current rate women will not earn the same as men until 2059.
IWPR President Heidi Hartmann commented that: “For decades, women have been increasing their level of educational attainment and gaining job experience, which economists would call increasing their human capital. Yet, their earnings have not kept pace with these increases. Although the labor market has steadily improved since the Great Recession, and both men and women are gaining jobs, a lack of progress in earnings reflects remaining weakness in the labor market.”
Lawrence Kahn has written about the gender pay gap for IZA World of Labor. Observing that pay systems that compress occupational wage differentials—such as the minimum wage—can reduce women’s incentives to enter male-dominated occupations, he argues that: “Policies to reduce occupational gender segregation and career interruptions by women may narrow the gender pay gap without the adverse employment effects of wage compression.”
Read more on this story at the Wall Street Journal.
Related articles:
Wage compression and the gender pay gap by Lawrence M. Kahn
Equal pay legislation and the gender wage gap by Solomon W. Polachek
Find more IZA World of Labor articles on gender here