July 31, 2009
In 2008, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings that were about 80 percent of the median for their male counterparts: median weekly wages were $638 for women, $798 for men. In 1979, the first year for which comparable earnings data are available, women earned about 62 percent as much as men.
After a gradual rise in the 1980s and 1990s, the women's-to-men's earnings ratio (for all workers age 16 and over) peaked at 81 percent in 2005 and 2006.
Between 1979 and 2008, 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 rose from 68 percent in 1979 to 89 percent in 2008, and the ratio for 45-to-54-year-olds increased from 57 percent to 75 percent.
The earnings ratios for teenagers, 87 percent in 2008, and for workers aged 65 and older, 75 percent in 2008, fluctuated from 1979 to 2008, but their long-term trends have been essentially flat.