Economy

New Census Data Shows The Gender Wage Gap Hasn’t Improved In 7 Years

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The average woman working full time, year round in 2014 made just 79 percent of what a similar man made, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. That’s not statistically different than last year’s 78 percent figure, and there hasn’t been a significant reduction of the wage gap since 2007.

Men earned $50,400 at the median in 2014, while women earned $39,600. both not stat from 2013. Neither gender has seen a significant increase in their median earnings since 2009, and women’s 2014 median earnings were not statistically different than what they made in 2007.

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CREDIT: Census Bureau

The gender wage gap is even larger for women of color as compared to what white men make.

The wage gap steadily closed at a relatively rapid pace between the 1960s and 1990s, improving from a 60 percent gap to a 71 percent gap. But since 2000, progress has all but flatlined. A big underlying factor is the slowdown in women’s wage growth. That’s what helped propel the closure of the gap in earlier decades, but women have seen a standstill in wage growth since about 2001, as has most of the country.

Women make less than men, on average, for a number of reasons. About 10 percent of it is thanks to different work experience, often because women are much more likely to take breaks from work to care for family members. The drop of women in the labor force over the last decade can be tied to the country’s lack of paid family leave, child care assistance, and support for flexible schedules.

Some of it is also due to the fact that women end up working in areas that tend to pay less. But that doesn’t mean they can escape the gap by choosing different paths. They make less in virtually every industry and every job. And while getting more education boosts earnings, women make less than men with the same educational credentials at every level and even make less than their former male classmates when they graduate from top-tier universities. Some of that difference may be due to different majors or grades, but when salaries in the first year after graduation are compared while taking the college, major, grades, and other factors into account, women still experience a significant wage gap.

Discrimination therefore plays a role. Economists consistently find a portion of the gap that can’t be explained by a variety of other factors. Studies have found that people of both genders are inclined to give men more money, especially if the woman is a mother. Meanwhile, women’s job performance is continuously underrated compared to men’s.

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