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Single women are a rising force in the labor market. So why is their pay gap widening?

The pay gap has not only remained, it has increased by 3.7 percent from a decade ago, according to a new report.
Image: A group of colleagues having a meeting in an office
A new report from Wells Fargo shows that never married, single women working full-time earn 92 percent of what their single male counterparts earn. Tinpixels / Getty Images

Single women are now the fastest growing group in the labor market. Yet a new study from Wells Fargo finds that as their numbers in the workforce increase, their wage gap is too.

According to the report, the number of never married women increased by 20 percent over the last decade. Still, never married, single women working full-time earn 92 percent of what their single male counterparts earn.

And while single women in the labor force have grown three times the pace of the overall labor market in the past 10 years, the pay gap has not only remained, it has increased by 3.7 percent from 10 years ago.

“This may not sound like gigantic numbers, but there are huge implications for wealth building,” said ForbesWomen editor Maggie McGrath on Tuesday’s “Morning Joe.” For example, the report also found that single women have 18 percent lower net worth than their male counterparts. And if you take out women who were once divorced, separated or widowed (and likely had some economic benefit from marriage), that number increases to 29 percent lower wealth for never-married women compared to their male counterparts.

Experts said the wage gap is particularly stark for women because they typically take on a disproportionate amount of unpaid caregiving that takes them out of the workforce. There’s also an implicit bias about the value of women’s work, which affects pay. And there are occupational differences where male-dominated fields (like STEM) often pay more than typically female-dominated fields.

Huma Abedin, chair of the 30/50 summit and longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, said that in order to close the gender wage gap we must update and strengthen current laws. Salary transparency is also crucial. “Women need to know what a job pays. And we know that women tend to undervalue themselves as it is. So, to go into a workspace and to understand what your colleagues are being paid and having those conversations is important.”

Lastly, Abedin said a cultural change needs to take place. She noted that not all business is done in the workplace

“How many men go and do deals on the golf course or at ball games? And, so how women network, how we are together, supporting each other, I think between these three things that’s how we push the ball forward in ensuring equal pay for women.”