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Wage Gap Closes, but Bad News Is Why

Here’s a classic example of good news/bad news. First, the good news: The wage gap between what men earn and what women earn narrowed last year to its closest point ever, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). The bad news? Women still earn an average of 17.8 percent less than men. More bad news: The gap only closed because wages for men have fallen further than for women.

IWPR says both men and women’s real earnings have declined since 2010; men’s real earnings declined by 2.1 percent (from $850 to $832 in 2011 dollars) and women’s by 0.9 percent (from $690 to $684 in 2011 dollars).

There’s even more bad news. Women’s pay is catching up to men’s at a much slower pace than previously. “Progress in closing the gender earnings gap has slowed considerably since the early 1990s,” says IWPR.

If the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960, it will take another 45 years, until 2056, for men and women to reach parity.

Click here for information from IWPR and here for information on this year’s Equal Pay Day, April 17, from the National Committee on Pay Equity. This date symbolizes how far into 2012 women must work to earn what men earned in 2011.

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