Women‘s wages are failing to keep pace with wages paid to men, according to a recent study sponsored by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
The Census Bureau reported in August, based on the Current Population Survey, that women’s real median earnings fell by $171, or 0.6%, from 2002 to 2003, while men’s increased by $336, or 0.8%. The fall in the ratio of women’s wages to men’s was the largest in 12 years.
The wage gap is now 24.5 cents on the dollar or, $9,944 per year for workers at the median earnings level.
The long-term trend of substantial improvement in the ratio of women’s to men’s earnings, for full-time, year-round workers, essentially came to an end in the mid-90s, according to the report, authored by Heidi Hartmann, Vicky Lovell, and Misha Werschkul. Since 1996, the ratio has moved up and down slightly, with no clear direction of change yet discernible.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAD) report released in October of 2003, controlling for changes in education and work experience over time, concludes that women’s earnings have remained stagnant, relative to men’s, for an even longer period: 17 years – with the gap that cannot be explained by measurable differences in women’s and men’s education and experience, remaining at about 20% since 1983.
An IWPR report released in June 2004 shows that accumulating the earnings gap across all the years of an individual’s work in the prime working years leads to an even larger wage gap. Across fifteen years (1983 to 1998), women aged 26 to 59 years earn only 38% of what men earn, including the years in which they work less than full-time or not at all, for a staggering gap in long-term earnings of 62%.
It is still women who are doing the lion’s share of family care and giving up substantial working time and earnings to do so, with seriously negative effects on their current income, as well as their retirement security.