Weekly Gender Wage Gap Widened in 2018

Press Release

March 7, 2019
Contact: Jennifer Clark | 202-785-5100 |

New analysis shows that women’s weekly earnings remained flat in the past year

Washington, DC—In advance of International Women’s Day 2018 on March 8, a new fact sheet by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that the gender wage gap in median weekly earnings between women and men widened in the last year. In 2018, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 81.1 percent, down 0.7 percentage points since 2017. With median weekly earnings of $973, men earned $184 more per week than women, who earned $789. Women’s weekly earnings remained flat since 2017.

The report points to the declining pace of progress on closing the gender wage gap. In the past decade, between 2009 and 2018, the gap closed by less than 1 percentage point, the slowest rate of progress in narrowing the gender wage gap since 1979, when weekly earnings data were first collected. Progress was more than four times faster in the previous ten years (1999 to 2008), when the gap narrowed by 3.4 percentage points.

Men of all racial and ethnic groups and Asian women saw earnings increases in the past year, while Black women’s median weekly earnings fell by 2.8 percent and Hispanic and White women’s earnings stayed broadly unchanged. Hispanic women have the lowest median weekly earnings at $617, which is lower than the $635 per week needed for a single person without children to meet basic monthly expenses—such as housing, food, transportation, and child care expenses—and save for emergencies and retirement, according to IWPR’s Basic Economic Security Tables (BEST) Index.

The weekly gender earnings ratio is one measure of the gender wage gap. The more commonly cited ratio compares women’s and men’s median annual earnings for full-time year-round workers, which was 80.5 percent in 2017.

Both the weekly and annual earnings ratios are for full-time workers only. When all workers with earnings are included, the gap in earnings is much larger because women are more likely than men to work part-time or take time out of paid work to manage childrearing and other caregiving work. Over a 15-year period women workers’ earnings were just 49 percent—less than half—of men’s earnings, a wage gap of 51 percent.

Economist and IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., a co-author of the fact sheet, commented on the analysis:

“The gender wage gap is widening at a time when women are more likely than men to invest in their education. While the economy is booming, women’s median weekly earnings have stayed flat, and even declined for Black women. This should be a warning sign to policymakers and business leaders, that they must take stronger action to make sure women have equal opportunity to get the higher paying jobs employers have to offer, and that, when in jobs where men also work, they are paid equally.

IWPR Program Director for Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewich also commented:

“These data point to the need to look at the millions of workers in jobs traditionally done by women. Are they paid fairly for the skill and responsibility they entail?”

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences. IWPR also works in collaboration with the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics at American University.