Wage inequality in the United States - Statistics & Facts

Published by Erin Duffin, Apr 29, 2019
Gender and racial wage gaps in the United States remain, even as they have narrowed in some cases over the years. The female to male earnings ratio in 1990 was 71.6 percent, indicating that a regular female worker earned about 72 percent of the amount a male employee in the same position did. In 2017, this ratio was at 80.5 percent, showing a trend towards closing the wage gap between males and females. Looking at gender and ethnicity combined, all groups, with the exception of Asian men, lagged behind white men in terms of median hourly earnings. For example, in the U.S., the median weekly earnings of an Asian male wage worker was 1,280 U.S. dollars in 2018, while Hispanic or Latino women had the lowest median weekly pay, at 644 U.S. dollars.

Higher education is often seen as the equalizer when it comes to the gender and racial wage gap; however, the earning potential in various advanced degrees can differ significantly. In 2018, a Master's degree in Finance had the highest mid-career median pay, at 125,208 U.S. dollars. A Master's degree in occupational therapy, however, had an expected mid-career median pay of 71,087 U.S. dollars.

Another factor determining income is region, and the distribution of income within it. In 2017, the District of Columbia had the highest average wage in private industry at over 85,000 U.S. dollars, and it had the highest inequality in income distribution with a Gini coefficient score of 0.53. The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of inequality with zero representing perfect equality and 100 representing perfect inequality. On the opposite side, Alaska, with score of 0.42, was ranked as the most equal state. There is a general trend in the U.S. of increasing inequality between the poor and the wealthy. In the time period from 1990 to 2017, the Gini coefficient for household income has increased by 0.5 points.

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Wage inequality in the U.S.

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Impact of education

Regional differences

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