WASHINGTON — Women reached the 70% barrier in 1987 for the first time on record in narrowing a pay gap between themselves and men, the government reported Monday.
The median weekly earnings of men working full time rose $17--to $445 from $428--between the end of 1986 and the end of last year, while those of women climbed $13--to $309 from $296, the Labor Department said.
In percentage terms and averaged over the year, the median weekly earnings for women working full time in 1987 were 70% of those enjoyed by men, up from 69.2% in 1986.
The gap has been steadily narrowing since 1979, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first began collecting data on the wage differences by sex and when women earned 62.5% of what men made.
The median amount is the point at which one-half of the population group made more and half made less.
For the entire population of full-time workers, median earnings rose by $15 per week--to $381 from $366--in 1987.
But after taking into account a 4.4% rise in consumer prices, their actual buying power declined by $2 a week. That represents a sharp reversal of 1986, when workers' purchasing power increased by $7 a week as a result of only 1.1% inflation in consumer prices.
Blacks also edged up, to 78% from 77%, in what they make when compared to whites. The median gross paychecks for blacks before tax and Social Security deductions rose $13 a week to $306 in 1987. The median increase for full-time white workers was $11 a week, to $391.
Black women received the biggest raises in actual dollars in 1987, with their weekly earnings climbing by $18 to $283.
Paychecks rose by $11 a week to $312 for white women, by $14 to $334 for black men and by $17 to $462 for white men.
For Latinos working full time, paychecks among the men rose $15 to $316 a week. But Latino women as a group suffered pay cuts with their median earnings dropping from $255 a week at the end of 1986 to $253 a week at the end of last year.
Among men, workers in executive, administrative and managerial occupations had the largest median paychecks at $667, followed by those in professional specialties at $628 and technicians in a distant third at $501.
For women, professionals and a small number employed as mechanics had the highest wages, both at about $475 a week. The median weekly wage for women executives, administrators and managers was $421.