NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gender Pay Gap Is Smallest on Record

September 17, 2010

The earnings gap between men and women has shrunk to a record low, partly because many women are prospering in the new economy and partly because men have been hit hard by the recession, says USA Today.

  • Women earned 82.8 percent of the median weekly wage of men in the second quarter of 2010, up from 76.1 percent for the same period a decade ago and the highest ever recorded according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Women, who now make up 49.7 percent of the workforce, have outpaced men in the past 10 years in nearly every category, including race and age.
  • Race: The median weekly wage for black women rose 8.8 percent from 2000 to 2009 after adjusting for inflation, while wages for black men fell 2.4 percent.
  • Age: Women age 35 to 44 saw wages rise 11.5 percent after inflation from 2000 to 2009, compared with a 1.2 percent increase for men.

Men have been losing jobs at a faster rate than women in the recession because of troubles in manufacturing, construction and other industries, says economist Robert Drago.  By contrast, job loss has been slow in government and health care, which tend to employ more women.

  • Women have held their own or increased dominance in the skilled health care trades -- nurses, physical therapists, lab technicians -- that are growing in employment.
  • Nine of every 10 nurses are women -- same as a decade ago.
  • Men have increased dominance in the industrial and construction trades such as sheet metal workers, printing press operators and roofers, but those jobs are declining in numbers.
  • The computer business -- programmers, operators, hardware engineers -- is the only part of the modern economy in which men outpaced women in the past decade.

Source: Dennis Cauchon, "Gender Pay Gap Is Smallest on Record," USA Today, September 14, 2010.

For text:


Browse more articles on Economic Issues