For women, it's a low-wage recovery

While females have found jobs at a faster rate than men, the work is mainly in industries like restaurants where pay is paltry.

By Aimee Picchi Sep 19, 2013 2:33PM

Waitress waiting to take an order (© Brand X Pictures, Brand X Pictures, Getty Images)On the face of it, women are in a better place than men as the economy continues its recovery. After all, the unemployment rate for females 20 and older was 6.3% in August, lower than the 7.1% rate for men.

But the rate isn't all that it seems. That's because the job gains have largely come through low-paying work, such as waitressing, housekeeping and food preparation, reports Bloomberg.

From 2009 to 2012, roughly 60% of the job gains for women stemmed from work paying less than $10.10 an hour, Bloomberg notes, citing data from the National Women's Law Center. By comparison, only 20% of job creation for men stemmed from low-paying work. 

One reason women are taking low-paying jobs is the disappearance of higher-paying public sector jobs, such as teaching. Since 2009, about 444,000 public sector jobs have been lost to women, while men have shed 290,000. 

Women "are taking jobs as baristas in Starbucks and other jobs that used to go to people without college degrees," Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic security, told Bloomberg. "It’s an anecdote but it's also a fact."

Women on average still earn 77 cents to every dollar men earn, according to new data released by the Census Bureau on Tuesday.

But the pay disparity isn't the same in every state, notes Forbes. Women in Nevada, for instance, earn 85 cents to every dollar earned by men, one of the narrowest gaps in the country. 

The reason for Nevada's closer income parity? Casino work, which has tended to have strong union representation.

"A blackjack dealer's a blackjack dealer," Lisa Maatz, the policy director for the American Association of University Women, told Forbes. "Unions have always been very good for women in terms of getting their wages and benefits up to par."

The worst state for women's earning power is Wyoming, where female employees earn 64 cents on each dollar earned by men. Other low-paying states for women are Louisiana (67 cents), West Virginia (70 cents), Utah (70 cents) and Alabama (71 cents). 

While some critics say the pay disparity is due to women simply working in lower-wage sectors, such as child care, researchers still find pay gaps where women and men are in the same job. Female doctors, for instance, make $56,000 less per year than their male counterparts, The Journal of the American Medical Association found. 

For women, the disparity is more than discouraging. It also has a long-term impact on retirement savings, Social Security benefits and lifetime earnings. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Sep 19, 2013 5:32PM
Well, there you have it.  This is Obama's "recovery", right?  He's claiming credit for it, right?  So apparently, Obama must hate women if this is what's happening under his watch - thanks for making the argument, Picchi.  We know you'd have been more clear about this conclusion had someone else been sitting in the White House.

Sep 19, 2013 7:06PM

Companies no longer find value in any employee's time (i.e.efforts).  Even though men do make more money, the bottom line is corporations have pencil pushers in high paying positions to get the "worker bee" to work harder to increase profit margins, while NOT making the "worker bee" beneficiary of higher earnings for the corporations.


SOLUTION: Figure out what you love and do it, because if the reason why you work a j-o-b is just for the m-o-n-e-y your reward will be m-i-s-e-r-y. No j-o-b will ever pay you what you are w-o-r-t-h. You are the captain of your Life's Ship. Only you can decide to make a j-o-b work for you as opposed to a j-o-b working y-o-u!!


Go back to school, create, sing, travel....whatever....let "love for..." be your CAREER and the j-o-b a sideline to get there. Don't be afraid of your dreams and pursuing those goals, otherwise you will forever be helping a corporation achieve their goals without any real regard for you. If you doubt what I am saying answer this one question: "When was the last time your manager asked you, are you happy?? Are you reaching your potential??? If money were not an object, what would you be"??? What would you do???" 


Stop letting a j-o-b use you. Each of us has more to give and get from living than a paycheck. Do what you love with passion, stay focused, and stop believing a corporation will deliver on a promise it never made for your joy and happiness and wealth and well-being.

Sep 19, 2013 7:58PM
I have been working in the male gender world - Commercial Credit  (Real Estate & Commercial/Industrial lending) for many years at small to large banks.  While I really love my career and the opportunities it has brought me over the last 25 years, the wage disparity is really unfortunate. 

Before the great recession it seemed we were breaking the glass ceiling in the salary department and treated equal, but now after the recession it seems we have taken many steps back in salaries - (those poor congress members with $174M salaries boo hoo), with increased responsibilities in order to keep our jobs.  While not in poverty by no means (middle class) and still very happy with my career it seems that many, NOT ALL, banks do pay women in management positions, lower salaries than men.

I hope in the future for the Generation Y/Z, they can somehow break this conception in commercial banking.  It is a tough career but the salaries for men and women need to be equal.  I hope more women go into commercial lending/finance because it can be a man's world but it is rewarding if you have the skills, ambition, personality and mindset - it is a great career.

Sep 19, 2013 2:34PM

how much do you make aimee?


i dont understand why women have it so hard.  i thought obama was going to help women?

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