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December 1999, Vol. 122, No. 12
Women's earnings: an overviewMary Bowler
More than 41 million women worked full time at wage and salary jobs in 1998 and their median weekly earnings were $456. Among female full-time workers, earnings levels differed notably by age, race, Hispanic origin, and education. At the same time, womenís earnings fell short of menís across all demo-graphic groups; the gender earnings gap was largest for white workers, middle-aged and older workers, and those with only a high school education.
A look at womenís earnings over the past 20 years shows a mixed picture of progress. Womenís inflation-adjusted earnings have increased nearly 14 percent since 1979, whereas menís have declined by about 7 percent. But while womenís earnings have improved relative to menís, full-time working women as a group found themselves making only about 76 percent of what men earned in 1998. Earnings for women with college degrees shot up almost 22 percent over the past two decades but, for women without a post-secondary education, there was little or no advancement. This development left groups such as Hispanic women, who were less likely than others to have attended college, comparatively less well off, and generally exaggerated the earnings inequalities among white, black, and Hispanic women.
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 1999 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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