Women Earning More Money

Along with rising labor force participation, womenís earnings have risen relative to menís earnings. The old adage that you can pay a woman less than a man to do the same job has been shattered in American society. Federal law makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate on the basis of gender (or race, creed and other demographic traits), so the pay for a job must be the same, no matter who performs the work.


Unfortunately, there is still some disparity between menís pay and womenís pay for the same job, but the gap is being closed rapidly, especially among younger workers.


Graph 3 illustrates how womenís wages have risen, as a percentage of menís earnings for the same job.



By age group, the least disparity between womenís and menís wages occurs among younger workers. Young women today have an expectation to earn the same as men; it has been ingrained into their generational culture. Conversely, the most disparity in wages between the genders occurs among the oldest workers.


The following graph illustrates the female wage disparity by age group. Clearly, the gender gap on wages is closing, especially among younger workers.

Source: BLS

In addition, the ratio of female-to-male earnings varies by place of residence, ranging from 62 percent in Wyoming to 89 percent in the District of Columbia. The differences among the states may reflect variation in occupations and industries as well as the age composition of the population.

Some Wives Earn More Than Their Husbands

Roughly one-third of all employed wives earn more than their employed husbands, among families where both spouses work.


The next graph illustrates the rising proportion of wives who earn more than their husbands.  


Source: BLS


Here are some other highlights about working women and their contributions to family income levels.


  • The graph below shows working wivesí contributions to family income has grown to about 35 percent of total family income, up from about 26 percent 30 years ago. 

Source: BLS

  • In part, higher education levels are responsible for womenís increased earning power. Young women are more likely to enter college than young men Ė 72 percent for women versus 61 percent for men. More women than men are graduating from college today.
  • In 1970, 2.2 percent of employed women were multiple job holders. By 1995, the rate had nearly tripled to 6.5 percent. Since then, it has declined modestly to 5.6 percent of all employed females. The percentage of men holding multiple jobs has also declined modestly to about 4.9 percent. Thus, women are more likely to hold multiple jobs than men by a slight margin. 
  • Women are more likely than men to work part time (fewer than 35 hours per week). Women who worked part time in 2007 made up nearly 25 percent of all female wage and salary workers. In contrast, only about 10 percent of men in wage and salary jobs work part time. These proportions have not changed much over time.

Affluent Female-Headed Households Have Money

In a study on affluent households, the Conference Board found that female-headed affluent households have significant levels of income that can be spent on a variety of goods and services.


The Conference Board made some projections for 2010 that compared the aggregate amount of household income for female-headed households versus male-headed households. There is tremendous buying power among affluent households, whether headed by a female or a male.


Furthermore, the Conference Board projects that male-headed affluent households will total about 13.3 million in 2010. In contrast, there are expected to be 5.4 million affluent households that will be headed by a female in 2010.


The last graph illustrates the spending power of female-headed households versus male-headed households in 2002 and projected for 2010.


Source: Conference Board

Women Control Americaís Purse Strings

When it comes to shopping, women control the purse strings of America. It has been estimated that women influence up to 95 percent of all purchase decisions made in the U.S. and they actually make as many as 85 percent of those purchases themselves.


Not only is todayís American woman in control of her householdís spending, but she also has more of her own discretionary income than ever before, especially in households with two wage earners. 

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