Economic Snapshot | Trade and Globalization

Closing the gap between men’s and women’s wages

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Snapshot for August 4, 1999

Closing the gap between men’s and women’s wages

The ratio of men’s to women’s hourly wages grew from 73.1% in 1989 to 79.0% in 1998 — a significant improvement, but one that still left women earning about one-fifth less than men.

The shrinking of this gap between the wages of men and women in the last few years was the result of both improvements in real hourly wages for women and real wage reductions for men. Put simply, women moved forward, men back.

For instance, men, except for high-wage earners at the top 10% of the wage distribution scale, experienced flat or declining real wages between 1989 and 1998 (see the first table). In contrast, women workers at all levels realized real wage gains over this same period (see the second table). Gender-based wage disparities have been further diminished by the increase in the number of women working in white-collar and managerial positions.

Wage Gap

Wage gap chart 2

Source: The State of Working America 1998-99 and Census Bureau (CPS) data.

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