- Men in the U.S. still make more on average than women, but that may be changing for full-time workers under 30. In 22 of 250 metro areas, young women now earn the same as or more than their male peers, according to Pew Research Center analysis released last month.
- The analysis, based on Census Bureau data from 2015-2019, found that in the New York City and Washington, D.C., metro areas, young women earn 102% of what young men earn, when examining median annual earnings among full-time, year-round workers. The highest percentages are in Wenatchee, Washington, where women under 30 working full-time, year-round earn 120% of their male counterparts, and in Morgantown, West Virginia, where they earn 114% of men in their age group.
- In the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro area, the median annual earnings for women and men under 30 were identical in 2019, Pew found. Nationally, women under 30 who work full-time, year-round earn about 93 cents on the dollar compared with men in the same age range. That's still a narrower gap than for women in general working full-time, year-round. In 2019, their median annual earnings were 82% of men.
Fifty years ago, the gender pay gap for full-time working women under 35 was considerable. According to a May 2021 Pew report, in 1980, women under 35 made 67% of the pay men under 35 make. By 2015, women under 35 were earning 90% of their male peers.
By 2020, the gap had narrowed slightly. Pew attributed that narrowing to factors such as younger women outpacing men in college graduation, which opens doors to higher-paying jobs, often in male-dominated fields.
Where young women live may also play a role. About 16% of all young women working full-time, year-round live in the 22 metro areas where young women are at or above wage parity with men, the Pew analysis found. In 2019, nearly half (47%) of working women under 30 lived in the 107 metro areas where they earned between 90% and 99% of what men in their age group earned.
By contrast, only about 1% of the young women's workforce lived in the 14 metro areas where their earnings were much lower relative to their male counterparts, between 70% and 79%.
Earnings parity tends to be the greatest in the first years after young women enter the labor market, Pew said. Women who later become mothers may interrupt full-time careers or turn down promotions to care for their families, and that can affect long-term earning, the May 2021 Pew report found.
This was exacerbated during the pandemic. According to a study published in September 2020, working women said they lost a significant amount of work time — 49% more than men — due to their caregiving responsibilities, HR Dive reported.
But the post-pandemic job market may provide opportunities for closing the gender pay gap. In a Glassdoor survey, 63% of female respondents said the recent wave of quits has given them more leverage to negotiate their pay, according to an HR Dive report. Also, workers who quit their jobs last year and found new employment are more likely than not to say they're better paid at their current jobs and have more opportunity for advancement.
Pay transparency laws, such as those in California, Colorado and most recently, New York City, are another relevant trend. The laws generally require job postings to disclose a compensation rate or salary range. Providing pay transparency in job postings can be a step toward pay equity, one analysis found.
There is one notable field where women are solidly out-earning men: According to Equilar 500, in 2021, the median pay for women in CHRO roles at the top 500 companies trading on major U.S. stock exchanges was $3 million, whereas men earned a median pay of $1.6 million.