April 14 is Equal Pay Day, a perfect opportunity to reflect upon the fact that women in our country still earn less than men. The figure below shows hourly wages in 2014 for men and women across the wage distribution. At every decile, men out-earn women. At the median, women’s hourly wages are only 83 percent of men’s hourly wages.
Women still earn less than men across the board: Hourly wages by gender and percentile, 2014
Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata
It is interesting to note that the wage gap between genders is smaller at the 10th percentile than at the 95th. At the 10th percentile, women earn 91 percent of men’s wages while women make only 79 percent of men’s wages at the 95th percentile. The minimum wage is partially responsible for this greater equality among the lowest earners—it sets a wage floor that applies to everyone, which means that people near the bottom of the distribution are likely to make more equal wages. Also, low-wage workers are disproportionately women, which means that the minimum wage particularly bolsters women’s wages.
Though the gap between men and women’s wages is smaller for lower-wage earners, there is still a significant gender wage gap at all levels of the wage distribution, particularly at the middle and the top. To close this gender wage gap, women need to see wage growth faster than their male counterparts. Although women have seen modest wage gains in the last several decades, the main reason the gender wage gap has slowly narrowed is that the vast majority of men’s wages have stagnated or declined. The best way to close the gender wage gap is for both men and women to see real wage increases, with women at a faster rate than men. Truthfully, all workers are sorely in need of a raise.