The Census Bureau last week released some interesting figures showing that the number of women earning more than their husbands has risen slightly:

Between 2000 and 2015, the share of married couples where the wife earned at least $30,000 more than the husband increased from 6 to 9 percent, according to statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Married couples where the husband earned at least $30,000 more than the wife decreased from 38 to 35 percent. Conversely, husbands and wives whose earnings were within $4,999 of each other grew slightly from 24 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2015.

“This is a noteworthy development, given a broader context of an enduring gender earnings gap,” said Jamie Lewis, a statistician in the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, referencing page 10 of the 2014 Income and Poverty in the United States report.

The chart on page 10 of the poverty report cited above deals with the gender wage gap, so called, and puts the earnings of women compared to men at 79 percent in 2014. But–as we have repeatedly pointed out at IWF–this measure is almost meaningless because it simply compares the salaries of women who work full time and year around with salaries of men doing the same. The 79 percent wage gap does not factor in the choices women make, such as college majors, having taken time out from being in the workforce, or doing less overtime (sorry, but statistically, men tend to put in more overtime).

What these numbers do seem to make clear to me is that women, by and large, aren't hampered by gender discrimination. Bosses don't appear to be capping their pay or paying them less than men because they are women. This is injurious to the left's argument that we need more federal legislation to regulate earnings.

 I was interested in a quote in the Boston Globe from the same Jamie Lewis quoted above:

“I think that this suggests a move toward finding more equality, but also shows we’re still not there,” said Jamie Lewis, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics branch, in an interview with the Globe.

Many would say that even these improved figures don't mitigate the need for workplace legislation to iron out inequality of salaries. This is what I call clinging to the gender wage gap. Lewis' quote indicates that she might be a bitter clinger.

It is good to see women earning more, but I think that a second look at the figures justifies another, less appealing conclusion: men are not doing so well.

n fact, the Census data show that real median income fell 6.5 percent from 2007 to 2014. Undoubtedly, some of these women are outperforming their husbands because their husbands have been laid off or are working part-time.

What these figures really say, it seems to me, is that we need a more robust economy that allows more people–women and men–to make better livings.