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Being a Lawyer and Male Makes You a Top Earner, Census Report Shows

Posted Sep 10, 2008 6:57 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The highest earners in 2007 were men in legal occupations, who earned a median salary in 2007 of $105,233, according to a Census Bureau report.

The online report (PDF) issued in August shows women in legal occupations, which includes paralegal as well as lawyer positions, didn’t fare as well. Their median salary was $53,790. As a whole women in computer and mathematical professions earned more, with a median salary of $61,957.

Because data was collected throughout the year, the salary figures were adjusted for inflation to reflect a fixed reference point for the year.

Even when particular jobs within the legal profession were examined, women lawyers continued to lag behind their male counterparts. Women lawyers made a median of $93,600, a salary that was 77.8 percent of male lawyers’ median salary of $120,400. Female paralegal and legal assistants earned a median of $42,600, which was 93.2 percent of the $45,700 median that men earned. Female judges, magistrates and other judicial workers earned a median of $69,500, which is 64.3 percent of the median of $108,100 earned by males.

Despite the differences, it still pays to have a professional degree, according to a Wall Street Journal story published today. Lawyers and others with professional degrees were the only group who saw their inflation-adjusted earnings increase over the most recent economic expansion.

All other workers, including those with Ph.D.s and college degrees, had lower income in inflation-adjusted terms than they did in 2000, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The story refers to Census Bureau figures showing the inflation-adjusted median salary for all people with professional degrees was $89,602 in 2007. That is an increase of 2.8 percent over the median salary of $87,158 in 2000.

The inflation-adjusted 2007 median salary was $47,240 for a person with a bachelor’s degree and $28,290 for a high-school graduate.

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