Nationally, women working full-time earn about 81% of men. Here in Washington, that number drops to 75%. One factor is the presence of information, science and technology jobs in Washington. Important industries for our state economy, they are high-paying sectors dominated by men. In fact, these industries are among the top offenders for large pay gaps between men’s and women’s earnings.
But it’s also important to look at occupations. Take the health care sector, another with a wide pay gap between women and men. Seven out of every ten health technicians are women. Yet, Washington women working full-time in these jobs take home just two-thirds of pay earned by their male co-workers.
This isn’t the case nationally. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows female health techs actually earn more than their male counterparts. This is also true of legal occupations. Nationally, women working as paralegals and legal assistants earn 94% of men’s pay. In Washington, that number falls to 59%.
There are jobs in which women are earning more than men. Washington’s female construction, maintenance and repair workers earn slightly more than men in these positions. Yet, just 5% of these jobs are held by women. Another job for which women earn nearly the same as men (96%) is food preparation and serving. At the median, full-time workers in these jobs earn less than $22,000 annually. Hardly a reason for women to flock to these roles.
Washington workers earn more than the national median, but women are lagging further behind. High-paying sectors are dominated by men, while women tend to be concentrated in low-paying care sectors, such as home health and child care. Women who do break into high-paying sectors are still earning less than their male colleagues. This not only affects the economic status of women, it puts a dent in the budgets of families across the state. Today’s families are particularly reliant on women’s earnings, so the pay gap translates to families having less to spend in local businesses. Boosting women’s earnings means a boost for workers, families and our economy.