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Published: Sunday, 4/3/2011

New study finds wage gap between sexes persists

BY ANN BELSER
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

The last time the White House took a good look at the status of women in the country, John F. Kennedy was president and Eleanor Roosevelt headed a commission on the issue.

The White House has come back for another look in the report titled "Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-being."

The numbers show that although women are earning more college degrees than men and more women are working than ever before. Women also are delaying both getting married and having children (women now marry, on average, when they are 25 -- five years later than women in the 1950s). Yet they still don't make as much as men and are more likely to experience poverty.

Differences in career fields, as well as differences in family responsibilities and how they are handled, factor into a broad comparison showing that among full-time wage and salary workers in 2009, women made 80 cents for every dollar men made. In 1970, the figure was 62 cents.

The percentage of women in the labor force has climbed over the past six decades to 61 percent from 32 percent, and the numbers for men are dropping.

Sixty years ago, nearly 90 percent of men over age 20 were in the labor force; the current figure is 75 percent.

The income gap is particularly noteworthy for women who head households of at least two people. Married couples' incomes averaged more than $95,000 in 2009 and incomes of households headed by single men average more than $60,000, but households headed by women had incomes just over $40,000 a year.

Poverty also affects more women than men: In 2009, nearly 11 percent of women over age 65 were poor, compared with 7 percent of men.

The report pulled together figures from agencies as disparate as the National Center for Science and Engineering Studies, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Census Bureau.

The Block News Alliance is made up of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Ann Belser is a reporter for the Post-Gazette. Contact her at:

abelser@post-gazette.com.



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