The earnings gap: Local women still earn less

The earnings gap between working men and women in Jackson County inched a little closer toward parity last year, but local women still have a long way to go before they reach equal footing with men.

According to 2006 wage figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, the most current figures available, working women in Jackson County earned approximately 65.8 percent of what their male counterparts earned each month. In 2005, women earned 65.2 percent of what men brought home for the same work.

In the past 16 years, the wage gap between men and women in Jackson County has steadily shrunk. In 1991, for instance, women in Jackson County earned 57.8 percent of what men earned for the same work, according to the U.S. Census. However, at the current rate of change, it will take local women nearly 70 years to achieve wage equity with men.

The largest disparity between local men and women occurs in the higher-paying professions, which mirrors state and national trends, including management, healthcare, banking, and science and technology. The smallest wage disparities occur on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, in such jobs as gas station attendants, food service workers and social workers.

In Jackson County, female managers earn 51 percent of what their male counterparts earn each month, according to the Census figures. In Jackson County, the average monthly earnings for male managers in 2006 was $5,601, compared to $2,849 for female managers. Women in professional, scientific and technical service jobs earned just 55 percent of what their male counterparts earned in 2006. In healthcare, local women earned just 46 percent of what men earned.

At the lower end of the wage scale, Jackson County women were closer to par with men. Female gas station attendants in Jackson County earned an average of $1,384 per month in 2006, compared to $1,669 for men doing the same jobs. Women restaurant workers earned an average of $1,191 per month, while men in the same jobs earned an average of $1,444.

While the monthly earnings gap persists across all professions and industrial segments for both seasoned workers and hew hires, figures show that the gap between the sexes is smaller for new hires and then widens as time passes.

In Jackson County, for instance, newly hired female managers earned an average of $2,031 in 2006 compared to $2,817 for male managers, or 72 percent as much as men. Women managers on the whole earned just 51 percent of their male counterparts.

In broadcasting, female new hires earned 90 percent of men in 2006, earning an average starting monthly wage of $2,650 compared to $2,936 for men. In broadcasting as a whole, women earned just 79 percent of their male counterparts.

The wage disparity, gleaned from the U.S. Census Bureau's Quarterly Workforce Indicators database (http://lehd.did.census.gov/led/datatools/qwiapp.html) shows that the earnings gap is consistent across all major economic sectors and subsectors.

In the overarching category of retail trade, for instance, women in Jackson County earned 64 percent of what men earned each month in 2006. In retail subcategories, such as clothing, sporting goods and home furnishings, the disparity continued. Women who worked in clothing stores earned 68 percent of men, women in sporting goods stores earned 67 percent of men, and women in home furnishings stores earned 65 percent of men.

In manufacturing jobs, Jackson County women earned 70 percent of what men earned each month in 2006. In construction, local women earned 66 percent of what men earned, while women in educational service jobs earned 78 percent of men.


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