For decades, women have been trying to close the wage gap with men, who still earn more than their female peers with the same level of education. But one group -- young, single women with no children -- has closed that gap and is pulling ahead of their male counterparts.
An analysis of census data by consumer research firm Reach Advisors found that women between the ages of 22 and 30, without children, had bigger paychecks in 2008 than their male peers in 47 of the 50 largest U.S. cities. Their wages were 8 percent higher, on average, but varied considerably from one city to the next.
Atlanta, Ga., offered the best financial opportunity for these women, who took home 121 percent of the average wage for their peers. Young, single women were also substantially better-paid in Memphis, New York, Sacramento and San Diego.
There are several forces at work behind this reversal in the wage gender gap, according to James Chung, president of Reach Advisors. But the common theme is education, he says.
Some of the biggest gains for young single women, for example, came in cities where demand for so-called “knowledge workers” is highest. Education is also playing a role in this gender gap reversal in cities where ethnic majorities represent the majority of the population, said Chung.
“Hispanic and African American women and are about twice as likely to get college degrees as Hispanic and African American men are,” he said. “That’s part of why it really pops in cities with majority minority populations.”
In other cases, the wage gender gap is closing because the wages of young, single men are falling.
“When we looked at smaller markets with the highest reverse gender gap, they’re the ones that have seen a decimation of the blue-collar job base,” said Chung. “So in other words it’s harder for men to make solid incomes without solid educations.”
For women in every other demographic group, the wage gap still tilts decisively toward men.
Chung says the wage gap reversal for this young, single, childless cohort has a variety of economic implications. Better-educated, better-paid women who delay having children, for example, could help boost the pace of household formations, which has stagnated since the recession began.
The results of the research were also reported by Time.com and the Wall Street Journal, which also has a table of cities where young women outearn their male counterparts.