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KNOXVILLE – The United States Census Bureau has released figures that show that as of 1999, women in the U.S. earned only 73 cents for every dollar men were paid.

University of Tennessee economist Dr. Matt Murray said that’s an improvement, but it can get better.

“The trend, going from 1990 to 1999, is a positive trend with the earnings differential shrinking from 66 cents to the dollar to 73 cents to the dollar,” Murray said, “but it’s nonetheless frustrating that the gap remains.”

The figures from the Census Bureau showed that in 1999, the median income in full-time jobs in all industries was $35,922 for men and $26,292 for women.

Murray said there are several historical reasons for the gap.

“What we’re really trying to overcome with the male-female earnings differential is literally decades and centuries of bias and discrimination in the workplace,” Murray said, “but also differences in the types of occupations and careers that men and women choose.”

The Census figures showed the pay gap most pronounced in traditionally male industries like mining and oil production, with women earning 63 cents to the dollar, and narrowest in careers with the federal government, with women earning 90 cents for each dollar earned by men.

Click here for the Census Bureau reports on income inequality.