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Is the gender pay gap in the United States finally closing?


OOverall, women still earn less than men, but in some pockets that gap is starting to close. And in a handful of selected cases, women earn more money.

In 2019 (the most recent data available), women’s median earnings were 82% of men’s. But in 22 metro areas, women under 30 earned at least as much, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. And these cities account for 16% of all young women working full time, full year.

Pay equity is especially true in big cities. In the New York and Washington metropolitan areas, young women earn 102% of what young men earn, based on the median annual earnings of full-time, full-year workers. And in Los Angeles, the median incomes of men and women were the same.

Even more significant are the number of metropolitan areas where women under 30 earn between 90% and 99% of what men in the same age bracket earn. Pew research reveals that 107 cities meet this criterion. And 47% of young working women live in these regions.

Which cities are best for young working women? Here’s what Pew found.

The news, of course, was not so good in all cities. Four metropolitan areas – Mansfield, Ohio; Odessa, TX; Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; and Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana – saw women under 30 earn just 67% to 69% of what their male counterparts earn. The only bright light there? These fields accounted for only 0.3% of the female labor force in this age group.

Overall, women under 30 earn about 93 cents for every dollar earned by men in the same age bracket. The challenge — and it’s a challenge that the workforce has failed historically — is to maintain the gap that’s narrowing over the years.

“In 2000, the typical woman aged 16 to 29 working full time, full year earned 88% of a similar young man,” the report said. “In 2019, when people in this group were between the ages of 35 and 48, women earned on average only 80% of their male peers. Earnings parity tends to be highest in the first years after entering the labor market.

Pew’s look at the gender gap has focused on age rather than other demographics. But previous research shows discouraging trends in this area. Black women earned 63 cents on the dollar, according to a 2021 study by the National Women’s Law Center. Latinas earned 55 cents. Native American and Alaska Native women earned 60 cents. And Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women globally earned 85 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

As with the Pew study, these numbers were taken from 2019 census data.

And while the overall wage gap remains at 82 cents on the dollar, it has been closing over the past 50 years (though not as quickly as many had hoped). In 1969, women earned only 58.9% of what men earned. Ten years later, virtually nothing had changed, with women earning only 59.7% of a man’s annual salary at home. By 1989, that number had risen to 66%. At the turn of 21st century in 1999, it was 72.2% and jumped to 77% in 2009.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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