January 26, 2021

Contact: Contact: Erin Weber | 646-719-7021 |

Moving women into manufacturing, trade and technical jobs will speed recovery efforts, raise earnings, and cut poverty in New Orleans, new study finds

Women in New Orleans are missing from high-wage COVID-19 Recovery trade and technical Jobs. Moving them, especially women of color, into those jobs will have a dramatic impact on their ability to reenter the workforce and regain their economic footing.

Washington, DC—New research released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) shows that women constitute less than 20 percent of workers in high-paying trade sectors and are over-represented in sectors that have been decimated by the pandemic: Personal services, leisure and hospitality, and education and health. These sectors offer comparatively low earnings and are not expected to recover quickly post COVID-19.

The concentration of women in service sectors jobs has exacerbated the already large racial and gender wage gap. Pre-COVID-19, Black women were paid just 51 cents, Hispanic women 50 cents, Asian and Pacific Islander women 52 cents, and White women 75 cents of every dollar earned by White men. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 2 million women nationally have dropped out of the workforce, and many have been unemployed for 26 weeks or more, threatening the economic and workforce gains by women over the past decade.

The report shows women’s earnings are essential to the economic security of their families. Almost nine in ten Black mothers in New Orleans, and almost eight in ten of all mothers, are breadwinners for their families.

Improving women’s access to and retention in skilled trade and technical jobs will not only lift women’s earnings and improve the economic well-being of their families—it will also help businesses in the region to address workforce needs.

Chandra Childers, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study, says, “Many women are simply unaware of the earnings opportunities in the trades. In New Orleans, the average hourly earnings of a plumber are just as high as those of a middle school teacher. One career can be accessed through earn-as-you learn apprenticeships; the other requires at least four years of college (and potentially college debt).”

“High quality jobs with clear pathways for higher wages and advancement will be key to recovery for women. In addition to job creation efforts touted by the new Administration, there will be a need for reskilling and training for women to enter skilled and technical jobs, particularly among women of color, and those hardest hit by the pandemic,” said C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

“Our recovery efforts must be comprehensive and create opportunities for long-term economic security and mobility for women, and their families,” Mason said.