Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Family Economic Security > As joblessness drops, women of high-earning age drop out

As joblessness drops, women of high-earning age drop out

The labor market continued its strong streak, as unemployment fell another notch in March, to 2.3 percent. But the trend is different for women 45 to 54 years old, who were less likely to be working in 2018 than five years earlier. Preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 77.5 percent of women ages 45 to 54—often a worker’s highest-earning years—were on the job last year, the lowest rate in 20 years. Meanwhile, women 25 to 34 years old were more likely to be working.





Widening gap
In 2018, the median-wage female worker earned 85 cents to each dollar her male counterpart made. That may not sound like much of a gap, but in a year of full-time work, it amounted to $6,365. The gap is larger for women at the high end and smaller at the low end—$15,766 at the 90th percentile, $2,122 at the 10th percentile. After reaching its narrowest point in 2014, the gap widened again in 2018.




Minimum wage and gender
Mandated wage floors have contributed to a smaller gender wage gap for low-paid workers. Vermont’s 2019 minimum wage is $10.78 per hour. Legislation at the state and national level could increase this to $15 an hour by 2024. A $15 minimum wage would increase the paychecks of as many as 50,000 Vermont women, or nearly a third of all women working in the state.

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