Is the gender pay gap closing?

There’s still a divide between men’s and women’s compensation, but female worker salaries are rising faster.

 

The gender pay gap is real but narrowing, according to some figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Across the United States, women working full-time made 80.5 percent of the salary paid to men in 2016, a 1.1 percent increase from 2015.

For the nation, and for states and counties in the Crossroads region, the figures generally show that pay has been rising for both men and women — but women’s pay is rising faster.

“What I find interesting is the gap shrinking over time,” said Kenneth Levitt, assistant professor of management at Frostburg State University in Maryland. “This is a trend nationwide.”

Using figures culled from the U.S. Census Bureau, pansop.com, an information sharing website, conducted a study of the gender gap at a county level. 

“In regards to this study, the data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and represents the median income for full-time working males and females in the U.S aged 15 and up,” Kevin Pryor, a data analyst for Pansop, wrote in an email.

For example, at a national level, the median salary for men was $33,247 in 2015. For women, it was $21,653, according to the Pansop report. The salary for men rose 2.3 percent from 2009 to 2015. But for women, the figure climbed 8.2 percent.

State figures were similar to the national trend for that time period. Women’s median salaries trailed the median salaries for men. But women’s salaries rose more quickly.

In Maryland, the median salary for men rose 2.4 percent to $42,479. For women, it climbed 9.1 percent to $30,259.

In Pennsylvania, the median salary for men rose 6 percent to $34,632. For women, the number rose 13.2 percent to $21,225.

In West Virginia, the median salary for men climbed 9.1 percent to $29,226. But for women, the number rose 15.8 percent to $17,304.

“It’s a national phenomenon,” Levitt said.

 

Other views

Other studies have looked at the numbers in different 

ways but found some of the same trends.

For example, when adjusted for inflation, median female earnings grew 2.3 percent between 2007 and 2016. At the same time, the figure for men fell 1.1 percent.

Some analysts point to traditionally male-dominated industries, such as manufacturing and construction, that were hit hard during the recession. Meanwhile, there has been growth in jobs like medical aides and nurse practitioners, which have been traditionally dominated by women.

Levitt also noted the growth in many health-care jobs. At the same time, he said, the traditional roles of mother and caretaker might have women making choices based on lifestyles as well as their careers.

“It’s more likely the woman who makes those choices,” he said. “Those do come at a salary cost.”

 

County data

In the Pansop study covering 2009 to 2015, the median salaries for women grew faster than men’s pay in all but two of eight area counties.

The biggest percentage gap was in Allegany County, Md., where women’s median pay rose 14.3 percent while men’s income fell 3.4 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, men’s median income rose 10.2 percent in Berkeley County, W.Va., while women’s rose just 2 percent.

“It’s like the housing market,” Levitt said. “It’s going up nationally, but not everywhere.”