The earnings gap between men and women has shrunk to a record low, partly because many women are prospering in the new economy and partly because men have been hit hard by the recession. Women earned 82.8% of the median weekly wage of men in the second quarter of 2010, up from 76.1% for the same period a decade ago and the highest ever recorded, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The Census Bureau on Thursday will release a more comprehensive look at earnings differences between men and women. But a USA TODAY analysis of current data shows dramatic changes are underway short-term and long-term. “The good news is the wage gap is closing. The bad news is the reason,” says economist Robert Drago, research director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.