Wednesday, October 06, 2010

More News On The Gender Wage Gap

I found this yesterday:

--A new fact sheet released today by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, based on data from the US Bureau of the Census, shows that in 2009 median annual earnings for employed women were $36,278, compared with $47,127 for men, a female- to- male-earnings ratio of 77.0 percent (making for a gender wage gap of 23 percent). This gender wage gap deteriorated slightly in 2009, from a level of 77.1 percent in 2008, after peaking at 77.8 percent in 2007. For Americans employed full-time year-round, there is no evidence that men are doing worse in the recession than women earnings-wise.

"More effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs that pay decent wages regardless of gender or race is desperately needed. Women, especially those who support families on their own, would benefit from equal access to good jobs and equal pay"

The gender wage gap is stark for women of color. For full-time year-round employees, white women earned only 75 cents for each dollar earned by white men, but African American women only made 62 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, and Hispanic/ Latina women earned only 53 cents.
You can see the actual statistics in Table 1. of this publication (pdf) (left-click to enlarge the table):

A few things should be kept in mind when looking at that data:

First, these are gross figures. They do not tell us what causes these gender and race/ethnicity differences in earnings. The figures have not been standardized for actual working hours (such as overtime), occupation, industry or the worker's education or experience levels.

Second, part-time workers are excluded altogether. Women are much more likely to work part-time than men and part-time workers have lower hourly wages than full-time workers.

Table 1 above chooses to relate women's earnings to the earnings of white non-Hispanic men in the rightmost column. Those comparisons tell us that Asian-American women do best in that comparison and Hispanic women/Latinas worst.

I decided to play with the numbers in that table a little more. For example, we can look at the gross (unstandardized) race/ethnicity gap for each sex. If we use the white non-Hispanic men's earnings as the denominator and treat those earnings as if they equal one dollar, then African-American men make 73 cents, Asian-American men one dollar and Hispanic men/Latinos 61 cents.

Likewise, if we set white non-Hispanic women's earnings as equal to one dollar, then African-American women make 83 cents, Asian-American women 1 dollar and 10 cents and Hispanic women/Latinas 70 cents.

Once again, remember that the above figures (which are obviously really percentages) are not standardized for education etc. and therefore are not direct measures of race discrimination. Still, those numbers are interesting, especially when we compare the effects of race/ethnicity between men and women.

What about the gender gap in wages by race/ethnicity? If we set the men's earnings in a particular race/ethnicity group as one dollar, then women in that same group earn 75 cents if the group is white (not Hispanic), 85 cents if the group is African-American, 82 cents if the group is Asian-American and 87 cents if the group is Hispanic/Latino. Note that the gender gap is the largest among non-Hispanic whites.

Finally, we can simply rank the dollar figures in that table. Asian-American men have the highest average earnings, white non-Hispanic men the second highest, Asian-American women the third highest and so on. An instructive exercise.