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Gender pay gap may be shrinking

Jill Barshay Apr 28, 2009
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Bill Radke: They call today Equal Pay Day. Lobbyists for equal pay laws say the typical American woman has to work three months longer than her male counterpart to make what he makes in a year. But it seems the economic fallout might be chipping away at that pay gap. Jill Barshay reports.


Jill Barshay: Women might fret about being paid less than men. But in this recession, men might be worried about having a job at all.

Heather Boushey is a labor economist at the Center for American Progress, a left-learning think tank. She says men have been hit with 4 out of every 5 job cuts in this recession. Going forward, women may not seem so underpaid in comparison.

Heather Boushey: If the men who’ve been losing their jobs tend to be paid a little bit higher than the average male, then what we might see is that the pay gap gets a little bit smaller because so many of those higher-paid men are out of work right now.

She says the gap between men and women’s pay may narrow. This doesn’t mean that a working woman is better off.

Boushey: When you’re looking at families where a man has lost his job and she is trying to make ends meet on her salary alone, not just her, but her whole family is suffering because her pay is lower simply because she’s a woman.

Women’s pay has been stuck for years at about 78 cents for every dollar that a man earns. Congress is scheduled to hold a hearing on the gender pay gap later this morning.

I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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