After narrowing steadily during the past two decades, the ratio in earnings between men and women aged 25 to 29 remained unchanged between 2000 and 2005.
In 2005, young women entering the labour market and employed on a full-time full-year basis earned 85 cents for each dollar earned by their male counterparts; this ratio was unchanged from 2000.
This gap had narrowed during the previous two decades. In 1980, young women entering the labour market and employed on a full-time basis for a full year earned 75 cents for each dollar received by their male counterparts. This increased to 79 cents in 1990 and 85 cents in 2000.
Median earnings, in 2005 constant dollars, of full-time full-year employees aged 25 to 29 by sex, Canada, 1980 to 2005
The gap narrowed because of a decline in median earnings of young men. Median earnings of young women were remarkably steady between 1980 and 2000, despite their rapidly rising educational attainment. In 1980, 17.8% of women aged 25 to 29 employed on a full-time full-year basis held a university degree. By 2000, this proportion almost doubled to 34.0%.
The gap remained unchanged between 2000 and 2005 for two reasons. First, young women experienced no growth in median earnings during this period, even though their educational levels kept increasing.1
Second, median earnings of young men changed relatively little between 2000 and 2005, after dropping substantially between 1980 and 2000. This was the result of rising earnings among young men with no university degree in recent years. Among this group, median earnings increased after 2000 in Alberta, as the oil boom was in full force, and ceased to decline after 2000 outside of Alberta.
Gender pay differences in 2005 were wider among older workers. For example, young women aged 30 to 34 employed on a full-time full-year basis earned 79 cents for each dollar received by their male counterparts. Among women aged 50 to 54, the ratio amounted to 72 cents.
Among men and women aged 30 and over, the earnings gap did not reflect solely gender differences in pay rates within occupations and in the propensity to be employed in high-paying positions. It also reflected gender differences in labour market experience, annual hours worked and, to a lesser extent, job tenure.2
Median earnings, in 2005 constant dollars, of full-time full-year employees by age groups and sex, Canada, 2005