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Earnings of Women Aged 20–59, 1988–2018

Released: May 2021

DEFINITION: Earnings consist of all wages, salaries, and self-employment income in covered and noncovered employment, including earnings that exceed the annual taxable maximum.

Chart. Title: Real Median Annual Earnings of Women Aged 20-59, 1988-2018 (in 2018 dollars). Line chart with tabular version below.
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Table equivalent for chart: Real Median Annual Earnings of Women Aged 20–59, 1988–2018 (in 2018 dollars)
Year Aged 20–29 Aged 30–39 Aged 40–49 Aged 50–59
1988 20,866 30,211 31,956 29,630
1989 20,611 29,985 32,324 29,854
1990 20,080 29,420 32,097 29,583
1991 19,366 29,355 32,434 29,709
1992 19,163 29,749 33,211 30,569
1993 18,731 29,367 33,350 30,734
1994 18,451 29,074 33,372 30,993
1995 18,494 29,139 33,513 31,420
1996 18,542 29,120 33,467 31,913
1997 18,885 29,512 33,864 32,906
1998 19,849 30,542 34,861 34,255
1999 20,262 31,143 35,327 35,200
2000 20,577 31,787 35,440 35,745
2001 20,484 32,258 35,571 36,404
2002 20,200 32,660 35,835 37,280
2003 19,882 32,897 35,702 37,593
2004 19,812 33,224 35,748 37,772
2005 19,707 33,134 35,481 37,720
2006 19,923 33,386 35,690 37,965
2007 19,949 33,707 35,681 37,817
2008 19,728 33,612 35,501 37,644
2009 19,203 33,823 35,783 37,690
2010 18,386 33,385 35,615 37,202
2011 17,954 32,998 35,607 36,705
2012 17,803 32,833 35,425 36,391
2013 17,988 33,030 35,911 36,577
2014 18,323 33,107 36,346 36,675
2015 19,416 34,364 37,953 37,936
2016 20,155 34,866 38,545 38,183
2017 20,407 34,888 38,675 38,087
2018 21,194 35,465 39,277 38,568
  • For all age groups, real median annual earnings were higher in 2018 than in any of the preceding 30 years.
  • Earnings for women in the three oldest age groups—
    • rose substantially from 1988 through 2018,
    • increased across each decade analyzed, and
    • were lowest between 1988 and 1994.
  • Whereas, earnings for women aged 20–29—
    • rose only slightly from 1988 through 2018,
    • declined across the first two decades analyzed, but increased from 2008 through 2018, and
    • were lowest in 2012, shortly after the Great Recession of 2007–2009.
Change in Real Median Annual Earnings (in 2018 Dollars)
Time span Aged 20–29 Aged 30–39 Aged 40–49 Aged 50–59
1988–2018 $328
1.6%
$5,254
17.4%
$7,320
22.9%
$8,938
30.2%
1988–1998 −$1,017
−4.9%
$332
1.1%
$2,905
9.1%
$4,625
15.6%
1998–2008 −$120
−0.6%
$3,070
10.1%
$641
1.8%
$3,388
9.9%
2008–2018 $1,466
7.4%
$1,853
5.5%
$3,775
10.6%
$924
2.5%
 

SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Continuous Work History Sample.

NOTES: Earnings are indexed to 2018 values based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

Includes workers with annual earnings equal to or greater than one earnings credit. In 2018 dollars, the earnings required to earn a single credit were $998 in 1988, $1,078 in 1998, $1,225 in 2008, and $1,320 in 2018.