Women’s Wages vs. Men’s Wages in 2015

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2015 men’s earnings were growing twice as fast as women’s. Does it mean that the gender gap in earnings is widening despite many official measures aimed at fighting the pay inequality at workplace? The question remains: why women still earn less than men?

Unfortunately, there is no a simple answer to this question. First, the data is not that straight forward as it can seem. Yes, men’s earnings were growing twice as much as women’s, but only during the first three quarters of 2015. In the fourth quarter of 2014 the growth was equal. In the third quarter of 2014 the difference in growth was marginal. In the second quarter of 2014, as well as in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of 2013, men’s earnings were at least 0.5% down. At the same time for the same periods women’s earnings were growing at a pace of over 1%, 3%, and over 2.5% correspondingly.

So at least for now it’s fair to say that the current gap pay growth rate is temporal. The gender gap in pay is narrowing down year after year and there is no reason to doubt this general trend. For instance, in the second quarter of 2014 a median wage of a full-time female employee was 83.5% of her full time male colleague. This is the narrowest gap on record. The difference in women’s wages vs. men’s wages for the whole year 2014 was wider: a full time female employee earned 78.6% of what a male worker earned. However, it’s also the narrowest gap on record.

One of the reasons why women earn less is that they often have to choose lower-paying jobs with more flexible hours in order to be able to take care of their children. This argument is also supported by the Labor Department data showing that women who never were married earned 95% of the salary of their male colleagues.

However, the gap in women’s wages vs. men’s wages exists in almost every field. This gap reflects policy choices on the federal, state, and corporate level. Such things as the lack of paid maternity and family leave speak for themselves. According to different studies, men tend to take time off to take care of their children if their leave is paid. Women will do it anyway.

Although we don’t have a trend of rapid and strong improvement, the trend is still there and it’s positive. The pay gap is slowly narrowing down. According to Women’s Policy Research, women will reach pay parity with men in this country in 2059.