Economic Snapshot | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

Increased work by wives cushions fall in family income

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Snapshot for March 10, 1999

Increased work by wives cushions fall in family income

The growth in family earnings has not only been slow and unequal for the past 20 years, it has also come increasingly from greater work effort — from a rise in the number of earners per family to increases in the average weeks and hours worked per earner. This figure, which graphs the median percent of total family income contributed by wives’ earnings for all families with working wives, clearly shows the importance of wives’ earnings since 1970. The median percent contribution of working wives grew from around 26% of family income in 1979 to almost 33% in 1996.

Source: The State of Working America 1998-99.

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