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Is the Gender Pay Gap in the U.S. Finally Closing?

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Women, on the whole, still earn less than men, but in certain pockets, that gap is starting to close. And in a handful of select cases, women are making more money.

In 2019 (the most recent data available), women’s median earnings were 82% of what men made. But in 22 metropolitan areas, women under the age of 30 made at least as much, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. And those cities represent 16% of all young women who work full time, year-round.

The wage parity is especially true in large cities. In the New York and Washington metro areas, young women earn 102% of what young men earn, based on median annual earnings among full-time, year-round workers. And in Los Angeles, the median earnings for men and women were the same.

The number of metro areas where women under 30 make between 90% and 99% of what men in the same age range make is even bigger. Pew research finds that 107 cities meet that criterion. And another 47% of young working women live in those areas.

Which cities are the best for young women in the workforce? Here’s what Pew found.

The news, of course, wasn’t so good in every city. Four metro areas – Mansfield, Ohio; Odessa, Texas; Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; and Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana – saw women under 30 earning just 67% to 69% of what their male counterparts make. The sole bright light there? Those areas made up just 0.3% of the workforce for women in that age group.

On the whole, women under 30 earn roughly 93 cents for every dollar men in the same age range make. The challenge—and it’s one the workforce has failed at historically—is keeping the gap that close as the years go by.

“In 2000, the typical woman age 16 to 29 working full time, year-round earned 88% of a similar young man,” the report finds. “By 2019, when people in this group were between the ages of 35 and 48, women were earning only 80% of their male peers, on average. Earnings parity tends to be greatest in the first years after entering the labor market.”

Pew’s look at the gender gap focused on age, rather than other demographics. But previous research shows some discouraging trends in that area. Black women earned 63 cents to the dollar, according to a 2021 study by the National Women’s Law Center. Latinas earned 55 cents. American Indian and Alaska Native women earned 60 cents. And Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women overall earned 85 cents for each dollar earned by white males.

As with the Pew study, those numbers were taken from 2019 Census data.

And while the overall wage gap remains at 82 cents on the dollar, it has closed in the past 50 years (though not as quickly as many would hope). In 1969, women earned just 58.9% of what men did. Ten years later, virtually nothing had changed, with women taking home just 59.7% of a man’s annual salary. By 1989, that number had jumped to 66%. At the turn of the 21st century in 1999, it stood at 72.2% and jumped to 77% in 2009.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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