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The Gender Pay Gap is the Smallest on Record — Not Necessarily Good News

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Snapshot for September 6, 2006.

The Gender Pay Gap is the Smallest on Record—Not Necessarily Good News


By  Sylvia Allegretto

New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that the gender pay gap for full-time, full-year workers is the smallest on record. The shrinking gap was a feature in the Department of Labor’s report, Highlights of America’s Workforce: Labor Day 2006. Women now earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. After an increase in the gap from 2002 to 2003, the gap shrunk over the last two years. However, as the Figure shows, these declines were solely due to the fact that earnings have fallen for both men and women, but have fallen more so for men—not a desirable scenario.

 Amazingly, the Department of Labor brags that the gender gap in pay is now the smallest ever, while completely ignoring how we got there. Following current earnings trends, the Figure projects what more “good news” of this sort would bring in the decades ahead. It turns out the gender gap would completely close in 2024, when earnings for full-time, full-year workers would be just under $25,000—40% below today’s level for men and 22% for women.

Figure: Gender pay gap for full-time, full-year workers, current and projected

Of course this projection is preposterous, but it clearly shows the absurdity of celebrating that men’s pay is shrinking faster than women’s.

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