Women are doing for themselves and it’s changing the way the economy operates. Or at least that’s what a new report by Wells Fargo is suggesting. An outsized number of US women are unmarried, a record 52 percent as of 2021. This is the largest number ever according to the Census Bureau, who has been tracking Americans’ marital status since at least 1900. At that time 7 percent of surveyed women were single.
Although this data supports the assumption that women are more economically and socially independent than ever, it could bode financially bad for the future.
The gender wage gap continues to plague many women, particularly single mothers, from making the same economic gains as single men and married couples. Women who have never been married made 92% of what never-married men did in 2022, and have 29% less wealth, according to the report.
“The sheer growth of single women is rippling across the economy and leaving a mark on the labor market, wealth and spending,” said Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo and lead author of the anaysis in a report by The Washington Post. “The bad news, though, is that the wage gap [between men and women] has remained stuck over the past 15 years. Single women are filling a void in a very tight labor market, but they are still earning less than single men.”
As the outlet also pointed out, while single men out-earn single women, married couples had nearly four times the median net worth of single people in 2019.
Ultimately, unmarried women’s dollar doesn’t pack as much power as an unmarried man’s or married woman’s. Single women spent an average of $39,000 in 2021, compared with $41,000 for single men. Women mostly tend to spend on things they need.
“Single women tend to have less wealth — and that’s particularly true if they’re single mothers,” House said to the Washington Post. “Overall, given their lower income, more spending goes to necessities.”