The gender pay gap is widening again because men’s earnings are growing this year at twice the rate of women’s.
The median weekly earnings for full-time male workers was $889 in the third quarter, theLabor Department said Tuesday. That’s a 2.2% increase from a year earlier. Meanwhile, full-time female workers’ earnings were $721, up 0.8% from a year earlier.
The latest data marks the third straight quarter that the increase in male earnings was at least double that of female workers. As a result, women who work full time earned 81.1 cents for every dollar a man earned from July through September. That’s down more than a penny from a year earlier.
The trend suggests the narrowing of the pay gap may have at least temporarily stalled this year.
Median weekly earnings of full-time female workers were 83.5% of equivalent male earnings in the second quarter of 2014, the narrowest pay gap on record back to 1979, according to that measure.
Until this year, the gap had narrowed during most of the current economic expansion. But that was largely because male earnings were weak—declining in five quarters between 2010 and 2014—and women mostly saw modest gains.
The gender-pay gap has received widespread attention from the likes of PresidentBarack Obama, actress Patricia Arquette at this year’s Academy Awards, and most recently by “Hunger Games” and “American Hustle” star Jennifer Lawrence, who wrote an essay last week called “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?”
One factor driving the wider gap this year is increasing pay for men in higher-wage, professional fields. Median weekly pay for men working full time in professional jobs, a category that includes engineers, lawyers and teachers, was $1,345 in the third quarter, up 7.4% from a year earlier. Similar women earned $970 a week, a 2.2% increase from a year earlier.
Median weekly wages is just one of several government measures that can be used to examine gender inequality.
A Census report published last month looking at median annual pay showed last year’s gap was the smallest on records back to 1960. That report showed women earned 78.6% of similar men in 2014.