Organization Studies’s Updates

Pay Gap Is Smaller Than Ever, and Still Stubbornly Large

Image courtesy of Pixabay / Jodylehigh | Article Link | by Claire Cain Miller

The Census Bureau released new data Tuesday on the pay gap between men and women, showing a statistically insignificant increase. But the news is better than it might seem.

Women were paid 78 cents for every dollar a man earned last year, up from 77 cents in 2012. The 22-cent pay gap is a record low, down from 40 cents in 1960. (Annualize that and it takes a woman three more months to make what a man does.)

A closer look at the numbers reveals the good news: Within nearly every age group, the pay gap is shrinking even more than the census data shows, said Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University economist and one of the leading scholars on the pay gap.

The census data is a broad generalization — it reports the median earnings of people 15 and older working full-time and year-round ($50,033 for men and $39,157 for women). The reason for the discrepancy is that the baby boomers skew the results — because there are so many of them, because the pay gap tends to widen as women age and because they were the first generation in which women began to approach men in educational and career achievements.