Nightly News | September 14, 2010
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: It's always been a huge gulf in American society , and in our work force especially, what men and women are paid for the same work. Tonight, we can report the numbers have moved, though the reason for it isn't good. Figures from this year show women earned 83 cents on the dollar compared to what men earn. That's the highest number ever recorded. The bad news is the reason for it. The economy is in such crummy shape, a ton of men have been hard hit, and many women in turn have prospered in this economy. Still, in terms of women 's income and earning power in the US, the number represents a victory, a milestone, and it's where we begin tonight with NBC 's Michelle Kosinski . She's in Miami Beach for us tonight. Michelle , good evening.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI reporting: Good evening, Brian . We're here at a start-up software company started by a woman. And in this economy, with men outnumbering women on the unemployment line, this year, for the first time ever, women outnumber men in the American work force . They outnumber men at colleges. And now some might say a milestone that really counts, that long-debated wage gap between men and women is the smallest it has ever been. Across America , women are more than ever a work force to be reckoned with, making headway against the relentless wage gap by earning almost 83 cents to every dollar earned by a man. Ten years ago it was 76. In 1979 , 62 cents .
Ms. LAUREN KERRY: You sound pretty good.
KOSINSKI: Twenty-two -year-old nurse Lauren Kerry in Miami found success in an in-demand career.
Ms. KERRY: Within 24 hours of graduation, I did have my first offer here.
KOSINSKI: Lauren is in the age group of single women now earning more, 8 percent more, than young single men in most of America 's big cities.
Ms. HEIDI SHIERHOLZ (Economic Policy Institute): Women are earning more because they're better educated, so they can better occupations with higher wages; they're taking less time off during child-bearing years; and there has been a decline in overt gender discrimination.
KOSINSKI: Look at the last three decades. Wages for white women have risen 32 percent; 25 for black women ; 18 for Hispanic . But for men, they've only risen 3 percent for whites, not at all for black men, and have fallen 6 percent for Hispanic . In Chicago , 33-year-old corporate lawyer Deidra Norris is climbing the ladder steadily, but looking back at her male counterparts.
Ms. DEIDRA NORRIS: I've encountered, in my profession, more African-American female attorneys than I have African-American male attorneys.
KOSINSKI: Part of this is working women have just weathered the economy better. Health care, education, fields full of female workers, have actually grown in the recession. But manufacturing, construction, dominated by men, have been among the hardest hit. And that affects women , too.
Ms. SHIERHOLZ: Women are more likely to be the primary or the only breadwinners for the family right now.
KOSINSKI: In New York , 38-year-old doctor and mother Roshini Rajapaksa knows it's a balance.
Dr. ROSHINI RAJAPAKSA: We also have expectations about taking care of children and home care, and we really need men to step up to the plate.
KOSINSKI: We're still talking about a wage gap . That means it still exists. And the fact is, household income in this country continues to erode. Is this progress? Absolutely. Though some would be quick to point out that a woman's 83 cents still does not a dollar make. Brian :
WILLIAMS: Michelle Kosinski starting us off from Miami Beach tonight. Michelle ,