Employment and Earnings
Whether paid or unpaid, women’s work is crucial for their families’ economic security and well-being. Greater gender equality in paid and unpaid work will reduce poverty and improve economic growth and prosperity; persistent inequity in employment and family work is costing all of us. Women are held back by the undervaluation of historically female work, workplaces designed as if workers had no family responsibilities, and a broken-down work-family infrastructure.
IWPR’s Employment and Earnings program highlights the extent of pay inequalities, and the role played by stark occupational segregation in perpetuating unequal pay. We conduct research and analysis on women’s labor force participation and employment trends; workforce development, non-traditional employment, and apprenticeships; the impact of sex discrimination and harassment on women’s career advancement and mobility; the gender pay gap and pay inequity across race and ethnicity; work-family policies and employer practices; the and the impact of automation and technological advances on women workers.
We work with policymakers, employers, advocates, and practitioners to identify promising practices and policy solutions.
The loss of jobs in sectors dominated by women will have a devastating impact of families, especially those headed by single mothers or where women are the primary or co-breadwinner. One in two of more than 30 million families in the U.S. with children under the age of 18 have a breadwinner mother, who contributes at least 40 percent of the earnings to the household.
The gender wage gap in weekly earnings for full-time workers in the United States narrowed marginally between 2018 and 2019. In 2019, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 81.5 percent, leaving a wage gap of 18.5 percent.
Full-time, Year-Round Workers with Projections for Pay Equity, by Race/Ethnicity
Paid adult care work jobs are expected to increase substantially in the coming years, due to both an aging population and a comparatively low risk of automation for many of these jobs. These jobs, however, are among the lowest quality occupations in the U.S. labor market, with paid adult care workers facing low earnings, limited access to benefits, high rates of injury on the job, and scheduling unpredictability.
The gender wage gap in weekly earnings for full-time workers in the United States narrowed marginally between 2018 and 2019. In 2019, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 81.5 percent, an increase of 0.4 percent since 2018, when the ratio was 81.1 percent, leaving a wage gap of 18.5 percent, compared with 18.9 percent in 2018.
Women have made considerable progress in increasing their representation among business owners in recent years. The number of women-owned businesses increased in almost every industry between 2002 and 2012, at rates higher than those of men-owned businesses.
Geographically, economic opportunity is unequally distributed across the United States. A disproportionate share of all private-sector jobs—one in five—are located in just four metropolitan areas: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle.
Gender differences in paid and unpaid time at work are an important aspect of gender inequality. Women tend to spend more time on unpaid household and family care work, and men spend more time in paid work. This unequal distribution of time creates barriers to women’s advancement at work and reduces women’s economic security.
Growing the Numbers of Women in the Trades: Building Equity and Inclusion through Pre-Apprenticeship Programs
Greater access to apprenticeships in the skilled trades can help women achieve economic security and fill predicted skills shortages in construction. The construction trades provide good careers with family sustaining earnings.
Women’s Median Earnings as a Percent of Men’s, 1985-2018 (Full-time, Year-Round Workers) with Projections for Pay Equity, by Race/Ethnicity
Source: IWPR analysis of data from P-38 Historical Income Tables, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements. <http://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-income-people.html> (accessed November 4, 2019). Notes: Estimates presented for All Women are based on the earnings ratio for full-time, year-round workers between all [...]