The median household income in the United States is $56,516, according to 2015 data from the U.S. Census. But that number doesn't provide a clear or accurate picture for everyone, as average earnings fluctuate depending on factors such as age and gender.
In fact, in every age bracket, American women earn a median income far below that of the country as a whole, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the second quarter of 2017.
Here's the median income American women are earning at every age:
- 16 to 19 years: $404 weekly/$21,008 annually
- 20 to 24 years: $508 weekly/$26,416 annually
- 25 to 34 years: $727 weekly/$37,804 annually
- 35 to 44 years: $877 weekly/$45,604 annually
- 45 to 54 years: $851 weekly/$44,252 annually
- 55 to 64 years: $869 weekly/$45,188 annually
- 65 years and older: $800 weekly/$41,600 annually
That's far less than their male counterparts. Even when performing the same job, women earn an average of 20 percent less than men, according to the Institute For Women's Policy Research. That is, for every dollar earned by a man working full-time, year-round, a woman working full-time, year-round earns $0.76.
To compare, here's a breakdown of the median amount American men earn at every age:
- 16 to 19 years: $440 weekly/$22,880 annually
- 20 to 24 years: $549 weekly/$28,548 annually
- 25 to 34 years: $828 weekly/$43,056 annually
- 35 to 44 years: $1,065 weekly/$55,380 annually
- 45 to 54 years: $1,094 weekly/$56,888 annually
- 55 to 64 years: $1,058 weekly/$55,016 annually
- 65 years and older: $1,005 weekly/$52,260 annually
Not only do women still face a gender pay gap, but their peak earning age is significantly lower. Male college graduates earn more from the get-go. They bring home a median salary of $50,200 at age 22, while their female counterparts earn $39,800 per year, a difference of $10,400.
From ages 22 to 32, pay for female college graduates actually grows slightly faster than it does for men. However, a shift occurs at age 33, when women's earnings growth starts to slow and men's remains steady. By age 40, professional women see their salaries peak at about $67,000.
While some experts don't expect women's pay to catch up to that of men for over 100 years, others are more optimistic.
"Since 2000, one-third more women than men have graduated from college, and more women are earning graduate degrees, too," reports Fast Company, using data from a Pew Research study. "Even once-male bastions such as law school are seeing the change."
"Millennial women are so outpacing men in higher education that it's inevitable they will become their generation's top earners," the article goes on to say. "With greater education comes greater wealth. At this rate, young women's wages will overtake men's by 2020."
Though the rate of progress remains a subject of debate, many leaders across the business world are taking steps toward improvement. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and founder of professional-networking platform Lean In, launched the #20percentCounts campaign to raise pay equity awareness, and Marc Benioff, chief executive officer of Salesforce, spent $3 million to close Salesforce's pay gap and announced he would double that amount this year.
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