Jun 8, 2023 - Economy

At this rate, women won't achieve pay parity until 2056, report finds

Ratio of female-to-male median earnings
Data: Center for American Progress from census data, 2022 value from GAO; Chart: Axios Visuals

Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits employers from paying women less than men for the same work.

Why it matters: Since the law passed, the wage gap between men and women has narrowed substantially — but not all the way.

By the numbers: In 1963, the typical woman working full-time, year-round earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by a male counterpart. In 2022, that number was 82 cents, per government data. (For women of color, the gap is wider.)

  • At the rate we're going, women working full-time year-round wouldn't achieve pay parity with men until 2056, per calculations from the progressive Center for American Progress out Thursday morning.
  • And the projection is rosy. It would be unlikely for the trend to continue at that pace without major structural changes, said Sara Estep, the associate director of CAP's Women's Initiative and the report's co-author.

State of play: A woman working full-time, year-round earned $9,954 less than her male counterpart in 2021, per CAP's analysis of the most recent available census data.

  • Cumulatively, since 1967 when the data first became available, women have missed out on $61 trillion in pay because of the differential, per the report.

The big picture: Before you send me hate mail explaining that the pay gap is a myth, understand that women still earn less than men for a host of reasons, some outside the scope of that original law.

  • A few factors: Women are overrepresented in lower-paying occupations and underrepresented in the highest, best-paying echelons of companies.
  • They are also more likely to take time out of the labor force or work part-time to care for children or take less demanding jobs. All moves that lower their pay — sometimes for a lifetime.

The bottom line: In addition to all that, there is still some unexplained portion of the wage gap that economists attribute to wage discrimination.

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