We already know that more women than men attend college and earn diplomas. While they’re in school, they tend to learn better. And good news! The job market is steadily bouncing back from the Great Recession. Well, kinda.
The Economic Policy Institute released a report today that shows that for all those advantages, young women still earn far less than young men. According to the EPI’s annual report, male college graduates earned 8.1 percent more in 2016 than in 2000, while female college graduates earned 6.8 percent less than in 2000. Meaning, it’s not only that circumstances aren’t improving as quickly for women as they are for men-they’re getting worse.
"That these two groups, which otherwise look very similar-same amount of education, same experience-would have such a huge wage gap at the beginning of their careers is astonishing," Teresa Kroeger, a research assistant at the EPI, said. "On average, young female college grads make $4 less per hour than their male peers, which means these two groups are starting their careers on very unequal footing. … [E]ven if more men are going into higher-paying occupations, there are still substantial gender wage gaps within occupations."
And racial disparities, Tanyell Cooke, a research assistant for the EPI, points out, have persisted as well. "[W]omen of color are still facing higher levels of lackluster wages growth than their white peers. And the racial wage gap between women has increased over the last 20 years, even as the overall wage gap between men and women has narrowed." Cooke believes the Federal Reserve is in the best position to prioritize the needs of these communities, keeping interest rates low until unemployment levels go down.
Kroeger says policies that would raise wages for all working people often disproportionately benefit women-"raising the minimum wage, eliminating the tipped minimum wage, making affordable, high-quality child care accessible to all parents, and providing paid parental and sick leave so working people can take care of themselves and their families."
"[A]t the end of the day, all workers are sorely in need of a raise," Kroeger says. But since 50 percent of the workforce is still being paid less for their work, we’re going to need to give a little extra attention to that fact.