Women's Full-Time Pay Gap Widens to 17.9 Percent

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By Larry Swisher

Jan. 22 — Median weekly earnings of full-time working men increased more than those of women in 2015, widening the gender pay gap, Labor Department figures showed Jan. 22.

Women's full-time earnings rose just 0.7 percent over the 12 months ended in the fourth quarter of 2015, lagging the 2.8 percent gain for men.

Women's pay equaled 80.4 percent of men's in the final three months of the year, compared with 82.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to Bloomberg BNA's analysis of the figures. In other words, women earned nearly 18 percent less than men. The earnings gap generally has narrowed over time from a high of 39 percent in 1979.

The pay figures include wages and salaries, overtime, commissions and tips of full-time workers ages 16 and older.

In the most recent period, male full-time workers reported they usually earned $907 per week compared with the $729 per week reported by female workers. The median is the midpoint, where half of workers earn more than that amount and the other half, less.

Over the past 10 years, the women's-to-men's earnings ratio has been unchanged from 80.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Occupation Affects Pay

Changes in earnings by demographic group over time can reflect many factors, including shifts in the proportion of the population employed in higher- and lower-paying industries and occupations, according to the DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Among all workers by job category in the fourth quarter, those employed in management, business and financial operations had the highest median weekly earnings ($1,287), while those employed in service occupations were the lowest paid ($520).

Higher education is another factor that increases earnings. Among full-time workers ages 25 and older, those with an advanced degree—professional or a master's or higher—received the highest median weekly pay in the fourth quarter ($1,445), nearly three times as much as workers with less than a high school education ($502).

For More Information

For more information, see Compensation and Benefits Library's Bloomberg BNA's Wage Trend Indicator chapter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Larry Swisher in Washington at lswisher@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com