Skip to navigationSkip to content
Unsplash/Tim Gouw
The number of women working full-time has risen by 2.7 million since 2007.

The US gender wage gap is closing because women are making more and men are making less

Preeti Varathan
By Preeti Varathan

Video Journalist and Economics Reporter

In the US, women working full-time made 80.5% of men last year, a 1.1 percentage-point increase from the year before, according to the US Census Bureau.

This is partly due to rising incomes among full-time employed women. Median female earnings grew by 2.3% between 2007 and 2016, adjusted for inflation.

The other half of the story is that men are earning less. Since 2007, full-time male workers’ median earnings have dropped by 1.1%. In fact, the median full-time male worker in the US saw his earnings peak in 1973, at the equivalent of around $54,000 in today’s money. Median male earnings last year were more than 4% lower than they were in the early 1970s.

Recent economic downturns have hit male-dominated industries, like manufacturing and construction, hard. Men have also been falling faster behind women academically (pdf), which leaves them competing for low-skilled jobs that are shrinking in the face of automation and also offering lower wages as a result. This comes at time when jobs that are traditionally female-dominated, like medical aides and nurse practitioners, are projected to grow the fastest over the next decade.

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.