The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) no doubt wishes it had more encouraging news for young women graduating college this year. But it doesn’t. Young women coming out of college still earn less than male graduates. That gap is narrowing slowly, but largely, the EPI reports, “because the vast majority of men’s wages have stagnated or declined.”

Young male college graduates now average hourly wages of $19.64 while female graduates earn $16.56, an 18.6% difference. Overall the average wage for college graduates now is $17.94. In 2000, before the Great Recession, that average wage rate for college grads was $18.41.

women's wage gap

“So what does the gap for graduates mean?” Katie McDonough asks on Salon.com. “At a moment when the average student is likely to leave with a debt burden of $30,000, the gender disparities leave women at a disadvantage when it comes to paying that back.”

“The gender gap has narrowed in recent years as women see their wages go up, but the EPI data says that men’s stalling wages is a major contributor,” she writes. “This isn’t the kind of inspirational message you’d hear in a commencement speech, but it’s the realities students are facing nonetheless.”

Concludes the EPI: “The best way to close the gender wage gap for people of all educational backgrounds is for both men and women to see real wage increases, with women’s wages increasing at a faster rate than men’s.

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