Graduate incomes: the good old days aren’t back

The gender wage gap for graduates is narrowing, although not by much, according to new Grattan Institute research by Andrew Norton and Ittima Cherastidtham. Women who graduated with a bachelor degree in 2006 are expected to earn 30 per cent less than men across their careers but at least the gap for the class of 2016 narrowed – to 27 per cent. While Norton and Cherastidtham attribute the disparity to women spending less career time in the FT workforce they add the slightly smaller gap is significant.  Maternity leave and childcare subsidies mean more women with young children are variously returning to work or staying in their jobs. Women aged 55-64 are also earning more, 17 per cent more in 2016 than women in that age group ten years prior. In contrast earnings for 55-64 year-old men grew 7 per cent in the decade.

They also find:

* full-time work opportunities for new graduates are picking up after the double whammies of the GFC and the end of the mining boom. However, growth in the number of professional jobs also “dropped significantly” in 2009 and 2013.

* the life-long earnings premium a degree will deliver for 2016 graduates has declined, due to lower earnings and employment opportunities in their starter years having a compounding impact. “With fewer years in steady full-time employment than earlier graduate cohorts, recent early-career graduates have accumulated less experience and received less employer training, reducing their skills development. The graduates who did find employment experienced low wage growth,” Norton and Cherastidtham write.


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