Women gained roughly 7 cents on the dollar over the 10-year period, the bureau found.
The figure does not necessarily mean that women are being paid less than men for doing the same job, according to the Associated Press. Instead, the census looked at earnings in 1999 for full-time workers in all industries and found that the national median income for men was $35,922 and $26,292 for women.
Experts gave the AP some possible reasons for the gap:
- that women often take time off to have children and lose experience and pay because of it.
- that women often choose lower-paying professions, such as teaching and social work.
- and that women are discriminated against when it comes to promotions and raises.
"I don't see it becoming equal until women become much more equal in terms of who's taking care of the kids at home and who's doing house work," said Marianne Hill, an economist for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.
Karen Nussbaum, assistant to the president of AFL-CIO in Washington, said a recent study by her group attributed about half of the wage gap to discrimination. One of the biggest reasons for the narrowing of the gap was that many high-paying manufacturing jobs held by men were lost as the industry declined in recent years, she said.
Colin Bennett, a labor economist for the Employment Policy Foundation, agreed that women face discrimination but said the gap is more complicated than bias.
"A lot of demographic factors are involved," he said.
- Associated Press story, via USA Today
- From the HR.BLR.com Library:
en in the United States earned only 73 cents for every dollar men were paid in 1999, though the gap narrowed during the 1990s, new census figures show.