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The good news is that the gender wage gap is shrinking among America's youngest workers.
But don't start planning the farewell-to-wage-disparity party just yet. The divide still widens as responsibility levels increase, according to a new study from PayScale and Millennial Branding.
"The higher up the career ladder women go to reach manager and executive levels, the more the wage gap grows," said Lydia Frank from PayScale.
After accounting for factors like job title, experience, industry, and tenure, the difference in overall median pay between male and female millennial workers is 2.2 percent ($51,000 versus $49,000). This age group, defined in the study as those born between 1982 and 2002, are more likely to hold entry-level positions, where the gap is smaller.
Among baby-boomer workers, the overall gap is 2.7 percent, and it's the widest among Generation X colleagues at 3.6 percent.
But the smaller disparity is a good sign for young workers, since early starting salaries set the earnings pace for an entire career. "If you don't negotiate in that first job, it compounds over time," said millennial workplace expert Lindsey Pollak. "You won't necessarily be able to make up for it later."
While a narrowing pay gap is good news at any level, it's not necessarily due to women demanding higher pay. "Employers are more aware and are trying to get ahead of any potential gender bias in terms of pay," Frank said.
At the executive level, the wage gap increases to 6.2 percent among boomers, 7.4 percent for Gen-Xers and 4.9 percent for millennials.
The employment situation has been tough for millennials, with many of them entering the workforce in the midst of the Great Recession that wiped out nearly 9 million jobs. While the economy has since recovered the jobs, competition remains tight, and underemployment remains a problem—especially among the highly educated.
"College graduates saw the labor market conditions and decided to stay in school rather than try to enter it," explained Frank.
When it comes to corporate loyalty, age also comes into play.
Forty-five percent of millennials think the ideal length of time to stay with an employer before finding a new job is two to three years, and 26 percent said that a year or less is acceptable.
Meanwhile, 41 percent of baby boomers said five years or more was an acceptable job tenure, while only 13 percent of millennials thought they should stay at a job for that long before finding a new gig.
"I've seen a lot of boomerang careers among younger workers," said Pollak. "They think the grass is always greener, but that's not always the case."
This article first appeared on CNNMoney, a Next Economy content partner.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal and part of our Next Economy coverage.
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