Women’s earnings, 1979–2011

November 23, 2012

Between 1979 and 2011, the earnings gap between women and men narrowed for most age groups. The women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio among 25- to 34-year-olds grew from 68 percent in 1979 to 92 percent in 2011, for example, and the ratio for 45- to 54-year-olds increased from 57 percent to 76 percent.

Women's earnings as percent of men's, median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, in current dollars, by age, 1979–2011 annual averages
YearTotal, 16 years and older16-19 years20-24 years25-34 years35-44 years45-54 years55-64 years65 years and older

1979

62.385.276.367.558.356.860.677.6

1980

64.289.578.169.458.356.959.476.4

1981

64.491.780.670.359.956.858.971.1

1982

65.792.982.472.161.160.161.470.3

1983

66.594.085.573.361.559.561.868.8

1984

67.693.185.274.662.059.461.566.8

1985

68.190.785.775.163.059.761.065.9

1986

69.591.487.576.163.960.961.271.5

1987

69.887.888.076.766.162.362.268.7

1988

70.289.890.077.768.561.762.370.9

1989

70.194.389.778.368.362.763.974.3

1990

71.990.890.379.369.663.863.774.4

1991

74.293.693.381.070.765.064.568.3

1992

75.894.094.382.071.965.864.977.9

1993

77.192.895.483.073.067.467.474.3

1994

76.492.594.582.972.667.166.076.2

1995

75.588.192.482.272.667.764.780.0

1996

75.088.892.883.273.368.965.370.0

1997

74.491.690.582.974.069.464.777.0

1998

76.388.689.482.973.670.568.172.6

1999

76.591.490.581.571.770.067.978.7

2000

76.992.592.782.471.673.269.175.1

2001

76.490.391.983.072.573.570.569.0

2002

77.994.693.984.575.274.671.673.8

2003

79.493.193.986.976.173.072.771.1

2004

80.492.193.887.875.672.973.074.6

2005

81.092.193.889.075.575.574.776.4

2006

80.887.694.988.277.273.572.977.5

2007

80.289.190.386.976.574.572.877.8

2008

79.987.392.588.574.574.975.474.8

2009

80.290.792.988.777.473.675.376.1

2010

81.294.693.890.879.976.575.275.7

2011

82.288.693.292.378.576.075.180.9

In 2011, among the age groupings of those 35 years and older, women had earnings that ranged from 75 percent to 81 percent of those of their male counterparts. Among younger workers, the earnings differences between women and men were not as large.

At each level of education, women aged 25 years and older have fared better than men with respect to long-term earnings growth. Although both women and men without a high school diploma have experienced declines in inflation-adjusted earnings since 1979, the drop for women was significantly less than that for men: a 10-percent decrease for women—as opposed to a 33-percent decline for men.

Percent change in constant-dollar median usual weekly earnings, by educational attainment and sex, 1979–2011
Educational attainmentPercent change
MenWomen

Less than a high school diploma

-33.0-10.0

High school graduate, no college

-19.13.6

Some college or associate's degree

-11.75.7

Bachelor's degree and higher

16.330.8

On an inflation-adjusted basis, earnings for women with a college degree have increased by 31 percent since 1979, while those of male college graduates have risen by 16 percent.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. Earnings data in this article are median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers. To learn more, see "Highlights of Women's Earnings in 2011,” BLS Report 1038 (PDF).

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Women’s earnings, 1979–2011 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2012/ted_20121123.htm (visited November 24, 2014).

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