We get a lot of questions about the income dynamics analysis we conduct, particularly our data on how the median full-time income for young, single, childless women is higher than that of their male peers.
To help answer some of the common questions that arise whenever that data appears in major publications, here’s some more background information:
- Our strategy, research, and predictive analytics work focuses on emerging shifts in the consumer landscape. While this data has been quoted by various advocacy organizations on all sides, please note that we aren’t an advocacy organization. Our interest in this research is around developing a deeper understanding of underlying dynamics that drive shifts in consumer behavior.
- We first stumbled on this topic when we noticed that for one of our clients in the community development arena, single women were a significant market for home buying, something that community developers had not really seen at that level. As a result, the Reach Advisors team embarked on a detailed analysis of microdata from multiple large datasets from the U.S. Census Bureau such as the American Community Survey.
- What we found was that the median full-time income for young, single, childless women is 107% of their male counterparts, when examining the nation’s top 50 metropolitan areas.
- Note that doesn’t ‘prove’ that a young woman with a similar job and education outearns a man. The gap is in part a function of how a lot of jobs in today’s knowledge-based economy are more likely to go to young women than young men. Why? Simply because young women are now 1.5 times more likely than young men to graduate from college. As we tell some of our clients, that dynamic is sometimes among the most important forces reshaping their landscape this decade.
- This ratio holds up when looking across the majority of the nation’s 366 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (metropolitan areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau). Note, however, that in markets as small as Auburn, Alabama, even the five-year rolling average isn’t as stable as we’d like to see, so we just don’t know if the ratio is actually 129% given the small data set for that market. But it’s likely that Auburn is seeing the same types of trends found in the majority of America’s metropolitan areas.
- Some cities, however, clearly defy this trend. The median full-time income for young, single, childless men still far exceeds that of these young women in cities driven by a high-paying industry where men still dominate (e.g., software engineering, oil drilling, etc.).
- Also note that when any of the key parameters for this very specific segment are removed (e.g., single, never married, childless, full time), the gap disappears.
- We realize that while this data doesn’t ‘prove’ a social advocacy position, that was not our intent. For this body of analysis, our objective was simply to gain in-depth consumer market insight that can provide a competitive advantage for our clients. In an era when many of the consumer segments that have grown reliably over the past few decades are no longer growing, we’re always hunting for the various niches where demand curve growth will still outpace supply curve growth.
Please feel free to let us know if you have questions about this analysis or our broader strategy, research, and predictive analytics work. Thanks for taking the time to dig into these questions that we find rather interesting!