I was reviewing some BLS data on wages by sex and educational achievement when I ran across this chart:
A couple of things really hit me:
1. College matters when it comes to wages.
2. People without college degrees have been killed wage wise over the last couple of decades.
3. Women are catching up to men in terms wages across the board.
The chart also shows, in part, why we're forecasting that women will reach wage parity with men around 2020 or so.
The main reason is the growing disparity in educational outcomes between men and women. Women currently comprise about 58% of college students and this is expected to grow to 60% by 2019. As women's share of the college educated continues to increase, so will their earnings relative to men.
The other driver (which is not covered on this chart) is wage disparity between men and women is much lower for younger women than older women. Urban women in their 20's, on average, even out earn urban men in this age group.
So as older women age out of the workforce over the next decade, the wage gap will fall as they are replaced by educated younger women who are paid roughly the same, or even more, than younger men.
This chart comes from the BLS report Highlights in Women's Earnings in 2009. It has lots of data on the wage gap by age and other data related to this topic, including the interesting fact that part-time women out earn part-time men.