Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Gender gap persists for working women in Washington

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton are making big political strides, but in terms of paycheck economics, earnings for women still lag far behind men’s.

The good news for women is that hourly earnings have trended up faster than inflation, and they are approaching parity in numbers of jobs. But a detailed look at employment data reveals continued segregation by type of employer, with only small changes in most sectors since 1990.

In every sector, whether relatively gender-balanced or strongly dominated by one sex or the other, men’s average monthly earnings are higher than women’s. And in terms of average monthly earnings, women have lost ground compared to men, dropping from 68% in 1990 to 64% in 2007.

Age is another factor: While the age distribution of employees is similar by gender, men and women have sharply different earnings over their life cycle. Men’s earnings shoot up during their first two decades of work. Women do not gain nearly as much with age and experience. In 2007 men aged 19 to 24 earned on average just 36% of what men age 35 to 44 made. Among women, the younger group earned 45% of the older women’s earnings.

More on the state of Washington’s economy, including county- and metro-level “economic snapshots” is available in EOI’s latest report, The State of Working Washington 2008.

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