In an era when more education often translates into better pay, a striking gender gap persists in the workplace, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
A woman who has completed at least four years of college and works fulltime typically earns $25,929, roughly the same as the $25,372 median earnings of men with a high school education, the report found.
The report, based on 1989 survey data, also documents racial disparities. High school-educated blacks typically earn 80 percent of their white peers.
And despite record levels of high school and college completion among the nation's adults overall, the educational attainment of young adults, age 25 to 29, has been stagnant since the mid-1970s.
The report also offers the first between-the-census look at survey data on education levels by state and metropolitan area.
The report released yesterday confirms what studies on gender bias have found for one decade, said Robert Kominski, chief of the Census Bureau's education branch.
Among the least educated fulltime workers, age 25 and older, women who did not complete high school typically earn $11,919, compared with $18,766 for men of the same education level. Women with five or more years of college typically earn $28,806, compared with $41,721 for men of the same education level.
"Though you have a certain control, looking at year-round fulltime workers, other factors, like length on the job enter in," Kominski said. "Women, as they leave the labor force to have children, may experience a loss in earning power."
Roberta Spalter-Roth, director of research for the Washington-based Institute for Women's Policy Research, suspects various forms of discrimination affect women's earnings.
"Women's jobs not only pay less, but they also have less of a job ladder that allows you to move to higher level jobs and hence higher paid jobs," she said.