Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the gender wage gap narrowed to the lowest level on record last year. Women working full-time, year-round jobs earned 78.6% of what similar men did in 2014, up from 78.3% in 2013. While that’s the smallest gap on record since 1960, the change is not statistically significant, so there’s little to celebrate. The gap between men’s and women’s earnings has remained, in inflation-adjusted dollars, at about $11,000 to $12,000 since 2001.
And according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, at the current rate, women will not see equal pay until 2059 — one year longer than IWPR’s previous projection. Certainly that’s much too long a wait. Ensuring that women receive equal pay is not as easy as just paying women more for their work (though that would be a good start!). Narrowing the gender wage gap will involve focusing on America’s lowest-paid workers, the majority of which are women. It also requires reforming paid leave policies to ensure that workers who provide family care do not see their careers suffer.