In big cities, young single women outearning men

Liz Goodwin
women closing the pay gap
women closing the pay gap

Though the average American woman still gets paid 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, a researcher has found one demographic where women have overtaken their male peers in the earnings gap.

Unmarried and childless women under 30 in 147 of the country's largest cities are making 8 percent more than their male counterparts. In Atlanta and Memphis, they are making 20 percent more. (The Wall Street Journal has a full list of the cities where women outearn men.)

However, women who don't meet the criteria -- childless, under 30, unmarried and living in these urban areas -- are still on average paid less than men.

The study's author, James Chung of Reach Advisors, tells Time magazine that the "reverse pay gap" can be attributed mostly to education. Significantly more women than men are getting bachelor's degrees now -- and that trend is starting to affect the pay differential between men and women, he says.

But the same result is not evident in cities with male-dominated industries like Silicon Valley, where men still make more than women on average.

[Related: America's best cities for young professionals]

A Labor Department report on wage differences between men and women also shows that historically the pay gap between the genders has always been smallest among workers younger than 35. In 2009, women under 35 who worked full time earned 90 percent what their male peers did.

The gap widens when women hit 35, perhaps in part because they've taken time off to raise children and then re-entered the workforce while their male peers were getting promotions. For women workers who haven't veered onto the mommy track, the scenario behind their lagging pay is depressingly familiar: They entered the workforce at salaries similar to their male peers' but were then passed over for promotions.

Some feminist bloggers are taking issue with how Time titled its story on the latest study: "Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women On Top."

Sadie Stein at Jezebel writes that the study is only grounds for "limited optimism" given the remaining pay disparities among the general population.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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