Gender Pay Gap in Federal Workforce Narrows
The pay gap between male and female federal government employees has closed significantly in the last 20 years as workers have become more alike in education, experience, and the occupations they hold, according to a report to be released today by the Government Accountability Office.
Women earned 89 cents for every dollar earned by their male co-workers men in 2007, the latest figures available, up from 72 cents in 1988.
GAO said that about half of the gap was due to factors including years of experience and levels of education, but it couldn’t fully account for the remainder of the disparity.
The gap has closed as both genders have shifted away from clerical or blue-collar jobs including typists, clerks and foremen to more professional or administrative positions including accountants, engineers or human resources managers. The shift over two decades is tied to the end of the Cold War and an increased use of technology and government contracting.
The government’s wage gap has also closed as male and female federal employees have achieved similar levels of education in the last twenty years. Forty-four percent of workers had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2007, compared with just a third in 1988. Salaries for both genders have also climbed as the workforce has become more experienced.
The GAO's report neither confirms nor refutes any potential pay discrimination. The federal government’s wage gap is much smaller than the gap for the entire U.S. workforce, which GAO last measured at 20 cents in 2000.
The full findings of the report will be released today by the bicameral Joint Economic Committee, which is holding a hearing to mark Equal Pay Day, an observation organized by women’s rights groups. The groups annually mark the challenges of pay disparity on the first Tuesday of April to symbolize the number of days into the year that a woman must work on average to match the previous year’s earnings of a man.
A similar version of this report appears in Tuesday's Washington Post.
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