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Women of all ages made measurable strides in earnings relative to men in the last 20 years, but the timing of the gains varied. The ratio of women’s earnings to men’s for 16- to 24-year-olds climbed much more in the 1980s than in the 1990s. Among those 25 and over, the earnings ratio advanced notably in both periods.
The median weekly earnings of women ages 16-24 as a percentage of men’s increased from 78.5 percent in 1979 to 90.7 percent in 1989, a rise of 12.2 percentage points. As of 1998, the ratio was only 0.6 percentage point higher at 91.3 percent, for a total change of 12.8 percentage points since 1979.
There was a smaller change in the female-to-male earnings ratio from 1979 to 1989 among those 25 and over; their earnings ratio grew by 8.1 percentage points, to 70.2 percent in 1989. The earnings ratio for this group of people rose another 5.7 percentage points to hit an all-time high of 75.9 percent in 1998, reflecting a total change of 13.8 percentage points between 1979 and 1998.
These data on earnings are produced by the Current Population Survey. More information can be found in "Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 1998," BLS Report 928.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Differences in women’s and men’s earnings by age, 1979-98 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/1999/jun/wk1/art04.htm (visited March 23, 2023).