Federal figures released this month show New Jersey women who were full-time wage and salary workers earned a median weekly income of $894 in 2016.

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That's a great number when compared to nearly the rest of the country, but a far cry from the money brought in by their male counterparts.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a nearly 20 percent wage gap between full-time males and females in the Garden State. The gap widened by 2.9 percent since 2015.

According to Dana Britton, director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, the most obvious structural cause for the gap — which hasn't budged much over the years — is the fact that men and women tend to work in different fields, and the jobs that women typically hold are paid less.

"The question is whether you see that as a problem or not, and what to do about it," Britton told New Jersey 101.5.

But, she said, a gap still persists when comparing men and women in the same roles.

"Initiatives like paid leave — paid family leave, paid sick days ... that could help women better balance work and family would certainly help to close some of the wage gap," she added.

Britton also pointed to the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act on the federal level that would, in part, require employers to prove that any differences in pay among workers exist for legitimate job-related reasons.

Nationally, according to the federal figures, full-time women earn 81.9 cents on the dollar compared to men.

New Jersey ranks third among the states for the median weekly earnings of women.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.