Men’s minimum wage expectations $24K higher than women’s

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There is a growing gap between the minimum wage a man will accept for a job and the minimum wage a woman will accept, according to new survey data of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Released this week, the survey tracks what economists call the “reservation wage” — the lowest paycheck a person is willing to accept for a new job. Overall, the New York Federal Reserve found that the American worker’s average reservation wage rose to $72,873, up from $68,954 a year ago.

No wonder: Rising prices for food, gasoline, and other essentials have made living significantly more expensive, and in many ways, the labor market has swung in favor of workers amid the Great Renunciation. But while the difference in reservation pay between men and women is nothing new, the data shows the gap is widening.

The reservation wage for men rose to $86,259 in July, a record, from $83,306 in March. Meanwhile, the reservation wage for women fell to $59,543 from $61,676 in that same period.

That means the lowest salary a man finds acceptable in a new job is about 37% higher than the lowest salary a woman earns. In November 2019, before the pandemic, the difference was 31%.

Although women’s wages have always lagged behind men’s, women today earn about 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man: It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the change from 2019 to 2022. It could be partially related to the fact that women hit harder by pandemic layoffs, and millions of women dropped out of the workforce altogether to take on caregiving responsibilities at home. They are going back to work, but a month of May analysis by the nonprofit organization Pew Charitable Trusts found that mothers of young children were re-entering the workforce at a slower rate than fathers of young children.

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It’s not just about gender: age also influences salary expectations. Younger workers have also seen outsized gains when it comes to their minimum wages. The reservation wage for people 45 and younger is now $76,971, up from $62,273 at the start of the pandemic.

The New York Fed survey contained responses from some 1,300 people contacted monthly.

If the numbers seem high, remember: Just because these desired minimum wages are what employees wantdoesn’t mean that’s what they really are winner. American workers age 16 and older earned an average of $1,041 per week in the second quarter of 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s roughly $54,000 per year.

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