American Women Can't Shake Pay Gap, Despite Gains

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Earnings prospects for young women are looking up, but this good news masks the stubborn persistence of a gender pay gap in the United States. In a far-ranging new report, the Institute for Women's Policy Research finds that, in more than half of the country, women’s status has remained unchanged or worsened since the study was last conducted in 2004.

Younger women fare better, earning roughly 86 cents for every dollar a young man earns, compared to 78 cents for women overall. In New York, the sole state where the pay gap tilts in favor of the female workforce, young women earn $1.02 for every dollar their male peers earn.

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While much has been made of this statistic (reported last month in Glamour magazine), the reality is that the pay gap is alive and well in the rest of the United States. It’s unlikely to go away during the careers and, in many cases, the lifetimes of today’s working women. The IWPR predicts that, at its current rate, the wage gap won’t close until 2058 — and women in some states will have to wait even longer to reach pay parity.

The first state (Florida) won’t hit pay parity until 2038, and in Louisiana, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming, women have to wait until the 22nd century before earning what men do today. The women in Wyoming who will eventually benefit from this haven’t even been born yet: The IWPR projects pay parity won’t come to the “Equality State” until 2159.

“The glass ceiling persists, and occupational segregation—the concentration of women in some jobs and men in others—remains a stubborn feature of the U.S. labor market,” the report said.


-- Martha C. White