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December 1985, Vol. 108, No. 12
Perspectives on comparable worth:
an introduction to the numbers
Comparable worth is a concept that has thrived on statistical evidence. Both reliable and unreliable statistics have been used by people on all sidesthose for or against the concept, and even those who want to prove that comparable worth is either a non-issue or the wrong issue to be addressed. Whatever position is taken, statistics are invariably an important component of any comparable worth discussion.
What do the latest data show? Trends in two of the most widely used data series on individual earnings reveal that the gap between men and women has been narrowing gradually over the past few years.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the Current Population Survey show that women working full time in the first quarter of 1985 had median wage and salary earnings of $268 a week, 66 percent of the $404 earned by men. In 1979, when BLS first began publishing weekly earnings data on a quarterly basis, women's median earnings were 62 percent of men's earnings. Over the last 6 years, the earnings ratio has fluctuated between 61 percent and 67 percent from quarter to quarter, but the trend generally has been up.
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 1985 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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