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

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.

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