Closing The Gap

Men and women asked for raises this year at the same rate, but men were more likely to get them

Businesswoman standing with colleague while looking at whiteboard during meeting in creative office
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Americans say they're handling record inflation by trying to up their income, including by asking for a raise at work. But not everyone has been equally successful at getting one.

In response to rising prices in the last 12 months, the same share of men and women, 11%, say they asked their boss for a raise, according to the recent CNBC Make It: Your Money survey of over 5,120 American adults, conducted in partnership with Momentive.

However, men were more likely to actually get a pay bump: 59% of men received a raise in the last year, compared with 52% of women, according to the survey.

In the U.S., employer pay practices have led to a decades-long wage gap where women are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to a man, according to Census Bureau estimates. The gap widens for many women of color.

Women are overrepresented in low-wage work in sectors with less stability, which have been hard-hit during the pandemic. They've also had more challenges regaining lost work due to caregiving responsibilities in the middle of a worsening child-care crisis. According to the Make It survey, women are more likely than men to be part-time workers or not employed at all.

The reasons why people didn't get a boost were pretty even across genders: 35% weren't given a reason, 22% said their company didn't have room in the budget, 15% weren't eligible, and 8% say the timing wasn't right.

Women who ask for raises could also be getting less of a bump and make less money overall. Nearly half of women surveyed earn below $50,000, compared with about 1 in 3 men in the same income group. Respondents who didn't identify their gender or are gender non-conforming also skew on the lower end of the income threshold.

In what could be a related result, women are more likely to say they're far behind on saving for retirement: 44%, versus 33% of men.

At the federal level, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 banned pay discrimination on the basis of sex. Decades later, employer pay practices continue to create gender and racial wage gaps.

Lawmakers have tried to strengthen fair pay laws through the Paycheck Fairness Act. Still, little progress has been made since it was introduced in 1997.

More recently, some states and cities have passed pay transparency laws, which require employers to list their minimum and maximum salary ranges on publicized job postings. Experts and economists say greater salary transparency practices could help close persistent wage gaps.

So far, research is mixed as to whether salary range laws actually help close wage gaps, and many say transparency is only the start to making pay equity a reality.

Want to earn more and work less? Register for the free CNBC Make It: Your Money virtual event on Dec. 13 at 12 p.m. ET to learn from money masters how you can increase your earning power.

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