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December 06, 2006
Wage Gap Narrows

Census data show that the disparity in median hourly pay between men and women dropped from 21.5 percent five years ago to 18.3 percent in August, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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The newspaper notes that in the last five years, men's wages fell 2 percent as women's wages increased 3 percent, just above inflation.

The newspaper notes that some experts question whether the data is all that good of news.

"We're closing the wage gap in exactly the wrong way," says Rebecca Blank, dean of the University of Michigan 's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. "The idea was that women's wages were supposed to rise, not that men's wages would fall to women's level."

An economist tells the newspaper that a better scenario is one in which both women's and men's wages increase, with women's wages rising at a faster clip.

"What you would like to see, especially during a period when the economy is growing at a good clip, is men's wages rising but women's wages rising more as they move toward equal pay for equal work," said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

Other experts argue that the point that matters is that the wage gap narrowed.

"All we care about is the ratio," says Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University economics professor.

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