Economic Security, Mobility and Equity (ESME)
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 ESME 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.
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.
Out of Work, Taking on Care: Young Women Face Mounting Challenges in the “She-Cession”
Longstanding inequities in access to quality jobs and affordable care, along with uneven caregiving responsibilities, create unique challenges for young women of color during this prolonged pandemic recession. Young women (aged 16 to 24) were more likely to lose their job than young men and workers of other age groups in the initial months of the pandemic recession, largely due to their concentration in industries and occupations that have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn.
The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation, Race, and Ethnicity 2020
In 2020, women earned less than men in almost all occupations, whether they worked in predominantly male, predominantly female, or more integrated occupations. In the lowest paid of the largest 20 occupations for women, Maids and Housekeepers ($503 per week), women are nine-in-ten workers (and face a wage gap of 10.6 percent); in the highest paid of the largest 20 occupations for men, Chief Executives ($2,402 per week), women are fewer than one-in-three workers (and face a wage gap of 24.4 percent).
Here to Stay: Black, Latina, and Afro-Latina Women in Construction Trades Apprenticeships and Employment
The skilled construction trades provide opportunities to build careers that are both challenging and fulfilling, pay a family sustaining wage with benefits, and can be accessed through ‘learn as you earn’ apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are particularly common in the unionized sector of the construction industry, where contractors and unions jointly run and fund apprenticeship programs.
Asian and Pacific Islander Women Earn Less than White Men in All but One State
In 2019, the median earnings of Asian American and Pacific Islander women for a year of full-time work were just 84.6 percent of White non-Hispanic men’s, and just 73.3 percent of the median annual earnings of Asian American and Pacific Islander men.2 While Asian American and Pacific Islander women had the highest median annual earnings for full-time year-round women of the largest racial and ethnic groups in the United States, $55,0003 compared to $47,299 for all women workers,4 this hides large differences in the labor market experiences for different groups of women.
The Weekly Gender Wage Gap by Race and Ethnicity: 2020
As lowest paid women lost most jobs, the gender wage gap for full-time workers shrank for all women and men, and by race & ethnicity. The gender wage gap in weekly earnings for full-time workers in the United States narrowed between 2019 and 2020, from 19.5 percent in 2019 (a gender earnings ratio of 81.5%) to 18.7 percent in 2020 (a gender earnings ratio of 82.3%)
On the Books, Off the Record: Examining the Effectiveness of Pay Secrecy Laws in the U.S.
The Equal Pay Act, passed over a half century ago, prohibits sex-based wage discrimination (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 2020). But the gender pay gap remains substantial: full-time, year-round women workers earn 18 percent less than their male counterparts (Hegewisch and Mariano 2020). A lack of knowledge about who makes what within organizations contributes to this continuing disparity.