The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) released the first cut of its 2013 data yesterday. Time, then, for another update on the age-related gender pay gap, which regulars will know I’ve been keeping an eye on for a while.
As most of the papers report, the gender pay gap has gone up. Even among full-time workers it has increased slightly, though it is still lower than it was at the start of the recession.
The gap that had been opening up between the pay of men and women in their twenties, with women earning more, has closed again. The gender pay gap has increased among all other age groups except those in the 18-21 range where it has fallen from 5.7 to 1.4 percent. Some people predicted that the recession would hit women harder than men. The slight reversal of the full-time gender pay gap trends may be a reflection of that. Given that women are disproportionately concentrated in the public sector, the pay freezes and job losses over the last few years will have had an effect on the overall level of women’s pay.
As ever, though, the big leap in the gender pay gap comes between the 30s and 40s, as the effects of career and child-care choices reduce women’s earning power. (See previous post for a more detailed discussion of this.)
The fall in the gender pay gap among people in their thirties seems to be holding up. This is something I noticed when I first started looking at this a couple of years ago. As recently as 2006, the big gap between male and female earnings started to open up in the early 30s.
Over the last few years it has shifted to the point where the difference between male and female full-time earnings for those in their thirties is only around 1 percent. It’s still to early to say but pay median pay levels seem to be evening out for those in their twenties and thirties.
Here’s another interesting snippet though. It seems that the gender pay gap increases the further up the income scale you go.
The difference between men’s and women’s pay at the 90th percentile is more than 20 percent. This is consistent with the pay gap rising with age. People tend to get paid more as they get older, particularly in high paying occupations. Many of the woman who might otherwise be in senior jobs have taken lower paid ones closer to home so they can do the school run and look after the kids.
It would be interesting to look at the percentiles for the different age bands but to do that I will need to dig into the ASHE’s massive data bank. In the meantime, I’d welcome your thoughts and theories on this.