Sex and the city: women now top earners

THE battle of the sexes in the city is over in the United States... and women have been declared the victors.

For the first time ever, young women in the largest American cities have forged ahead of men when it comes to how much money they earn. The shift has occurred in New York since 2000 and even earlier in Los Angeles, Dallas and a few other cities, new figures show.

The analysis was prepared by Andrew A Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College, who first reported his findings in Gotham Gazette, published online by the Citizens Union Foundation. It shows that all women from 21 to 30 living in New York City and working full time made 117% of men's wages, and even more in Dallas, at 120%. Nationwide, that group of women made much less: 89% of the average full-time pay for men.

A major reason, experts say, is that women have been graduating from college in larger numbers than men, and that many of those women seem to be gravitating towards major urban areas.

In 2005, 53% of women in their 20s working in New York were college graduates, compared with only 38% of men of that age. And many of those women are not marrying right after college, leaving them freer to focus on a career, experts said.

"Citified college women are more likely to be unmarried and childless, compared with their suburban sisters, so they can and do devote themselves to their careers," said Andrew Hacker, a Queens College sociologist.

Kelly Kraft, 25, is one of those women. Born in Indiana, she came to New York after graduating from the University of Dayton, got a job in publishing and now works for an advertising agency. "I just felt New York had a lot more exciting opportunities in different industries than Indianapolis," she said.

"In women's-studies courses you always heard that men were making more money, and it was a disadvantage being a woman," Kraft said. "It's great that it's starting to turn around."

"New York is an achievement-based city, and achievement here is based on how well you use your brain, not what you do with your back," said Mitchell L Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at the Robert F Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.

In 1970, New York women in their 20s made $7,000 less than men, on average, adjusted for inflation. By 2000, they were about even. In 2005, according to an analysis of the latest census results, they were making about $5,000 more: a median wage of $35,653, or 117% of the $30,560 reported by men in that age group.

Women in their 20s also make more than men in Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and a few other big cities. But only in Dallas do young women's wages surpass men's by a larger amount than in New York.

Nationally, women in their 20s made a median income of $25,467, compared with $28,523 for men.

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