Inflation is making it harder to get by without a six-figure salary

Many Americans agree it now takes a six-figure salary — at least — to get by amid today’s rising prices and economic uncertainty.

Yet, 72% of six-figure earners are men, according to a recent report by MagnifyMoney that’s based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. For every woman who makes at least $100,000, 2.5 men do, the report found. Meanwhile, 57% of workers who earn less than $25,000 a year are women.

Women are disproportionately overrepresented in low-wage and part-time jobs and underrepresented in the highest-paying positions, MagnifyMoney found.

“Women are always playing catch-up,” said Ismat Mangla, MagnifyMoney’s executive editor.

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“They bear the brunt of low-wage jobs, and those low wages translate to a lifetime of being behind when it comes to building financial security,” she added.

The gender wage gap has remained remarkably stubborn for decades.

During the pandemic, women were heavily employed in many of front-line industries that were hardest hit. And within those sectors, women were more likely to get laid off or voluntarily step out of the workforce to care for children.

The gap persists despite women’s increasing levels of education and even widens among higher-income workers.

The highest earners in our society are men, which means that they are able to build wealth for the long haul.

Ismat Mangla

executive editor of MagnifyMoney

MagnifyMoney found that 72% of those who earn at least $100,000 are men, while 28% are women. However, among those who earn at least $200,000, 78% are men, and just 22% are women.

“The highest earners in our society are men, which means that they are able to build wealth for the long haul,” Mangla said.

That is most evident when it comes to retirement savings.

By the time they retire, women have about 30% less saved, according to a separate report by TIAA.

Further, “women are retiring on average two years earlier, and living on average five years longer than men,” said Shelly-Ann Eweka, senior director of financial planning strategy at TIAA.

To give your retirement savings a boost, always contribute enough to get the full employer match and consider opting into an auto-escalation feature, if your employer offers it. This will automatically increase your savings rate by 1% or 2% each year.

A tax refund may also be an opportunity to supplement your retirement savings with a lump-sum payment.

Most experts recommend meeting with a financial advisor to shore up a long-term plan. There’s also free help available through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  

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