By Claire Zillman
September 13, 2017

For the first time since 2007, American women last year posted a statistically significant annual increase in what they earn compare to men, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. In short, the U.S. gender pay gap narrowed with women earning 80.5 cents—up from 79.6 cents in 2015—for every dollar men take home.

But don’t raise a glass just yet; that champagne’s going to have a bad aftertaste.

The most prominent factors that contribute to the gender pay gap are career choice, women’s decision to have children, and discrimination.

But part of the gain women recorded last year isn’t necessarily attributable to the alleviation of those factors; rather, it’s due to men making less money. The median woman made 2.3% more last year than in 2007, while men reported a 1.1% decline in that same period.

To chip away at the issues at the core of the gender pay gap, American women need resources like affordable child care, paid family leave, and more effective anti-discrimination efforts. Maybe then they’ll have progress that’s a little more worthy of celebration, instead of moving ahead because men have lost ground.

—@clairezillman

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