Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Women in Manufacturing

Eric Martinson, Economist

There is an interesting phenomenon I noticed within Utah’s manufacturing sector. It concerns two diverging trends regarding the female presence in manufacturing. The accompanying chart shows the two trends together. The blue line tracks female earnings within Utah’s manufacturing as a percentage of their male counterparts’ earnings from fourth quarter 1999 to second quarter 2013. The red line shows the female/male employment ratio.

(Click graph to enlarge)

As the earnings ratio trend (blue) reveals, females earn roughly one-third less than their male counterparts in the manufacturing industry.  However, this gap has been modestly closing. While women in manufacturing were expected to earn 58.6 percent the earnings of their male counterparts in second quarter 2000, 13 years later women could expect a higher share of men’s wages, 64.2 percent. While the gap still persists, it is at least closing and headed in the right direction.

The other trend (in red), that of female employment within Utah’s manufacturing industry as a percentage of male employment, indicates an opposite direction over the same time period. While 45.3 percent of the manufacturing workforce was female in the second quarter of 2000, that share had decreased to 38.9 percent by second quarter 2013.

It appears that while women are gaining in terms of earning power within manufacturing, there are fewer employed as a percentage of the manufacturing labor force.

[1] The data source does not allow for a distinction between full- and part-time earnings. Therefore, the lower wages could be in part due to less hours worked on average for women than men.

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