Women and Wages

SPECIAL TOPIC

Indicators:

cost of economic self-sufficiency, pay equity, median earnings by educational attainment

Related indicators:

affordability, unemployment, poverty, adult educational attainment

Definition:

Women and wages indicators establish consistent measures of social and economic well-being with a particular focus on the economic status of women in Fall River and New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Why are Women and Wages Indicators important?

In many instances, earnings for women in this region do not support economic independence, especially for the large community of single mothers and female-led households in our two Gateway cities – Fall River and New Bedford. The gender wage gap is present across occupations and levels of educational attainment. Interestingly, substantial differences in pay exist even in professions for which women represent the majority of the labor force. A significant body of academic literature draws causal connections between gender equality and development in both directions. That is to say, economic development can improve conditions for women, but also that gender equality can stimulate economic growth. Given the significant economic woes specific to Fall River and New Bedford, improving the status of women is of vital importance to regional economic performance. More importantly, gender equality is an end in its own right, fundamental to the pursuit of justice and the egalitarian values that our democracy seeks to uphold.

How do we measure indicators related to the economic status of women?

Analysts evaluate the socioeconomic status of women using various indicators, including median earnings differentials, labor market gender segmentation, and measures of economic self-sufficiency. The data presented here document differences in median earnings between men and women across various occupations and levels of educational attainment. Calculated using The Living Wage Calculator, a tool developed by Dr. Amy Glasmeier at MIT, the following data show median earnings for women and the cost of self-sufficiency for single-parent families in the Fall River and New BEdford. Additional statistics detail the way labor market gender segmentation is characterized by male dominated higher-income occupations and female dominated middle or lower-income occupations. This type of segregation within the labor market is affected by gender differentials in fields of study, enrollment, and degree attainment trends, which are also recorded here below.

How are the SouthCoast Gateway Cities doing?

FALL RIVER

1. The cost of self-sufficiency: 

In Fall River, the median earnings for women are $23,003. The median earnings figures are just sufficient enough for supporting one single adult in the region. However, single adults with children require significantly more earnings to support their families.

The PPC bases its figures based on calculations from the MIT Living Wage Calculator. This calculator demonstrates the minimum earnings an individual would need to support a family of a given size, and uses data on the Providence-Fall River-New Bedford Metro Area to create its estimates. The estimates indicate that economic independence for single parents requires earnings of $48,675 to support one child, $59,288 for two children, and $74,417 for three children. These calculations clearly demonstrate the financial strain on single-parent households in Fall River and New Bedford, particularly for women, whose median earnings are significantly less than those of men in the region.

Meanwhile, median earnings for men in Fall River is $32,503, nearly $10,000 more per year than women earn. There are several contributing factors that affect this gender wage gap, some of which will be reviewed here.

2. Pay equity

In Fall River women with a 4-year college degree earn less than men with some college or an associate’s degree. Unlike New Bedford, where the wage gap is substantially reduced at the college degree level, in Fall River, college degree attainment does not reduce the wage gap notably. In general, though, within group gains in earnings consistently increase with educational attainment.

A similar analysis of median income by occupation also shows significant wage differentials by gender. A sample of the three largest sectors in both New Bedford and Fall River shows gender wage discrimination exists even in female majority industries. In Fall River, management, services, and sales professions all employ over 9,000 workers, of which 61 percent are female, and median income for men is at least $10,000 more per year.

3. Median earnings by educational attainment:

As the charts below demonstrate, for women in Fall River, degrees make a difference. Women in Fall River may earn more their counterparts in New Bedford at the High School/GED level.  Additionally, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree or beginning to pursue a post-secondary education has the potential to nearly double woman’s annual earnings.

This is information is especially relevant when considering that of all women 25 years or older 29 percent in Fall River. Additionally,  slightly over 30 percent of the same group in both cities lack a high school diploma or GED.

NEW BEDFORD

1. The cost of self-sufficiency: 

In New Bedford median earnings for women are $23,473. The median earnings figures are just sufficient enough for supporting one single adult in the region. However, single adults with children require significantly more earnings to support their families.

The PPC bases its figures based on calculations from the MIT Living Wage Calculator. This calculator demonstrates the minimum earnings an individual would need to support a family of a given size, and uses data on the Providence-Fall River-New Bedford Metro Area to create its estimates. The estimates indicate that economic independence for single parents requires earnings of $48,675 to support one child, $59,288 for two children, and $74,417 for three children. These calculations clearly demonstrate the financial strain on single-parent households in Fall River and New Bedford, particularly for women, whose median earnings are significantly less than those of men in the region.

Meanwhile, median earnings for men are $31,528 in New Bedford, nearly $10,000 more per year than women earn. There are several contributing factors that affect this gender wage gap, some of which will be reviewed here.

2. Pay equity

In New Bedford, citywide median earnings for both men and women increase with educational attainment, ranging from those with no high school diploma to those with a 4-year college degree. Interestingly, data from both cities shows that the wage gap is larger for those with some college or an associate’s degree than those with a college degree and those with no high school diploma. One very telling data point exposes the gender wage gap as it defies predominant trends in education and income, with college educated (some college or associate’s degree) women earning less than men with no high school diploma in New Bedford.

A similar analysis of median income by occupation also shows significant wage differentials by gender. A sample of the three largest sectors in both New Bedford and Fall River shows gender wage discrimination exists even in female majority industries. In New Bedford, management, services, and sales professions all employ over 9,000 workers, of which 60 percent or more are female, and in each industry median income for men is at least $5,000 more per year.

3. Median earnings by educational attainment:

As the charts below demonstrate, for women in New Bedford, degrees make a difference. While women in New Bedford may earn less their counterparts in Fall River at the High School/GED level, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree or beginning to pursue a post-secondary education has the potential to increase earnings by as much as $10,000 in New Bedford.

This is information is especially relevant when considering that of all women 25 years or older 30 percent in New Bedford have not continued their education beyond high school. Additionally,  slightly over 30 percent of the same group in both cities lack a high school diploma or GED.

 

What’s being done to address these issues, and where can I learn more?

The PPC has created this page at the request of the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts, who work to advance the educational attainment and economic security of women and girls in the region.

Data sources and methods

  1. “Living Wage Calculation for Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA,” MIT Living Wage Calculator, http://livingwage.mit.edu/metros/39300; Median earnings from 2010-2014 ACS Table S2001
  2. Median earnings by educational attainment from 2010-2014 ACS Table B2004Median earnings by occupation from 2010-2014 ACS Table S2401

 

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