Women who managed to stay in the workforce during last year’s pandemic recession saw a dip in income and little improvement in the gender wage gap, data released Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau show.
In 2020, women who worked full time earned 83 cents for every dollar men took home, up from 82.3 cents the year prior. Earlier this year, Pew Research Center found the pay gap didn’t budge last year when including part-time workers, either. Nonwhite women have even bigger earnings gaps.
Women also saw a 1.2% dip in median earnings compared to the year prior, the Census report on income and poverty found. The change for working men was not statistically significant.
Much of the gender pay gap is due to women’s underrepresentation in the highest paying jobs and fields. The slight narrowing of the gap in 2020 was not because women were earning more but because women working in low-wage industries, like retail and hospitality, disproportionately lost their jobs, said Emily Martin, a vice president at the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
“The wage gap artificially appeared to be closing,” said Martin in an emailed statement. “But race and gender wage gaps are still robbing women of tens of thousands of dollars a year.”
Overall U.S. median household income decreased 2.9% last year compared to 2019. The official poverty rate increased 1 percentage point.