Women struggle and soar in new economy

The Takeaway

This story was originally covered by PRI’s The Takeaway. For more, listen to the audio above.

In general, women make less than men. “The average woman who works full time earns 80 cents on the dollar that a man does,” James Chung of the research firm Reach Advisors told PRI’s The Takeaway. At the same time, some women are surging ahead of men economically. According to new census data, single, childless, female college graduates between ages 22 and 30 earn as much as 8 percent more as their male counterparts.

“We’re seeing a generation of extremely well-educated women,” according to Chung, “they’ve been catching up over the last few decades. They’ve exceeded men.” Now, many of them are making more than men, too. Chung points out, “it’s an entire generation of women that are 1.5 times more likely to graduate from college than young men. That’s the game changer.”

For many other women, the recession is making inequality worse. Much of the recent job growth has been in low-paying industries, leaving few options for women. Annette Bernhardt, a policy co-director for the National Employment Law Project, told The Takeaway:

Women are impacted disproportionately by these low wage jobs. Especially in the care giver jobs, the waitress jobs. They make less money than men in those jobs. They’re less likely to move up in those jobs.

“When we started the recession, we were already looking at 20 years of growing inequality and the hollowing out of the middle class,” according to Bernhardt. “I think this is the real fear is that this recession has accelerated and exacerbated this trend.”

“We’re seeing a whole generation of young women that are rewriting the rules,” according to Chung. Better educated women tend to marry later and have children later. For less educated women, however, the increasing opportunities simply aren’t there. For many women in the current recession, Bernhardt says: “This is a story of women especially not making enough to feed their families.”

“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH. More at thetakeaway.org

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