WASHINGTON — The narrowing wage gap between men and women stagnated in 2019, according to new Census Bureau figures, and advocates fear the situation could worsen when data from the era of the pandemic will be published.
The gap has improved in both Arizona and the United States as a whole over the past five years, but the pace of change has been slow — and getting slower.
“The latest research has shown that women in the workforce are at a 33-year low after the pandemic,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, president and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network. “At this rate, we won’t close that wage gap until 2157.”
On average, women who worked full-time, full-year in the United States earned 81 cents in 2019 for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. That was down from 81.1 cents in 2018, but still represented an increase of more than 1 cent since 2015.
In Arizona, men’s earnings averaged $50,069 in 2019, compared to $41,617 for women that year, according to the bureau, or 83 cents of earnings for every dollar a man earns. While Arizona women have done better than the nation as a whole, their gain since 2015 was just 0.4% — and the state’s wage gap actually widened by 2 cents since 2017.
“Nationally and in Arizona, it hasn’t really shut down that much, and it’s been pretty slow,” said Hayley Brown, research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
The gap is wider and the pace of gains is slower for women of color, with disabilities, or LGBTQ who experience disproportionate wage disparities compared to non-Hispanic white women.
“Women make 83 cents on the dollar, but that really plummets when you look at race,” said Christian F. Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women. “It’s really a white woman making 83 cents on the white man’s dollar.”
Nationally, there is no industry where women’s earnings exceed men’s, regardless of the worker’s education level and previous experience.
In Arizona, women earned more than men in 2019 in one area: installation, maintenance and repair occupations, where they earned $1.07 for every dollar earned by a man. But in every other industry, women were not up to scratch.
But the wage gap varied widely by industry in Arizona. Women in jobs in agriculture, fishing and forestry earned 44% of what their male counterparts earned in 2019, for example, while women in health diagnostics earned 59% and women in construction and l extraction gained 66%.
The most popular occupations for women in Arizona were customer service representatives, nurses, and elementary and middle school teachers. But even female-dominated industries have experienced wage inequality.
“There’s certainly no guarantee that just because an industry or profession is female-dominated there will be more pay equity there,” Brown said. “There is certainly a gap, for example, in health care and social assistance and in education, where one would theoretically expect that gap to be small or non-existent.”
Census Bureau data showed that female educators earned 87 cents on the dollar of male educators and female customer service representatives earned 89 cents on the dollar.
But experts have pointed out that these figures date from before the pandemic, which has hit women workers harder than men.
“Women were affected, both at the start of the pandemic, and now two years later we see women from a whole different kind of range also affected by the pandemic,” Barajas-Román said. “We know this will have a profound impact on equal pay in the future.”
Experts agree the pandemic has had a negative effect on working women across the board, but they say it has disproportionately affected working-class women, some of whom have been furloughed or reduced to full-time work. partial, or who have been forced to take on additional responsibilities at home. .
“The labor force effects were much, much larger for working-class women than for women with at least a bachelor’s degree,” Brown said.
During his State of the Union address this month, President Joe Biden touted several initiatives he said would help get women back into the workforce, including proposals to reduce the cost of child care and to develop pre-K education.
Nunes praised these efforts, but said there was still more to do. etc
“It’s a system-wide problem. There are things Arizona can do … at the state level to make sure they take care of their residents,” she said. “You don’t always have to wait for the federal government to act.