Where Women Work and How Much They Earn

Where Women Work and How Much They Earn

by Nick Beleiciks

March 13, 2017

More than 848,000 jobs at Oregon businesses or state and local governments were held by women in 2015. Women represent 49 percent of employment in Oregon, but the share of jobs held by women varies considerably by industry.

Women’s average earnings were $3,375 per month in 2015, which was 69 percent of the $4,868 average monthly earnings of men. The average woman brings home nearly $1,500 a month less than the average man. Like employment, the earnings of women relative to men vary by industry.

The average monthly paycheck for women is about two-thirds the average monthly paycheck for men, but this fact is not a very useful measure of gender pay inequality. Average monthly earnings figures do not take into account other factors affecting pay, such as total hours worked and hourly wages. Adjusting for the number of hours worked narrows the earnings gap between women and men, but still does not account for other factors that can significantly affect pay.

Women’s Employment by Industry

Women outnumbered men in five of Oregon’s 20 major industry sectors. The biggest difference is in health care and social assistance, where three out of four jobs are held by women. Other noticeable majorities of women in the workplace are in educational services (66% women) and the finance and insurance industry (64%). In contrast, women are most noticeably missing from mining (15% women) and construction (19%) worksites.

The health care and educational services industries also have the largest number of jobs held by women. More than 189,000 of the jobs in health care and social assistance were held by women, and the industry employed 22 percent of Oregon’s female workforce. Retail trade also employs a large number of women, but retail jobs are nearly split 50-50 between women and men. Accommodation and food services ranks fourth in terms of number of women workers, and women represent over half of the industry’s workforce.

Women’s Average Earnings by Industry

Average monthly earnings of women were lower than that of men in every industry. The ratio of women’s to men’s earnings ranged from a relatively close 87 percent in accommodation and food services to a disparate 55 percent in finance and insurance. There are many factors behind these disparities in earnings, such as the number of hours worked and the relative wages of occupations with higher concentrations of women, but that information is not available from this data source.

Women working in Oregon’s health care and social assistance sector have an average monthly paycheck of $3,641, which is just 62 percent of the men’s average. Women working in finance and insurance have a higher average paycheck than women in most other industries, but their earnings pale in comparison to what men are bringing in. With earnings just 55 percent of men’s, women in finance and insurance receive an average of $3,900 a month less than what men are making.

The smallest disparity is in accommodation and food services, where women’s earnings average 87 percent that of men’s. The large share of minimum wage earners in this industry likely contributes to this relative earnings equality. That near equity has a cost
though, as average paychecks of both women and men were lower in accommodation and food services than in any other major industry.

Narrowing Oregon’s Gender Pay Gap

The above data provide industry detail about the earnings of women and men in Oregon that is not available from other sources, but they do not help explain why women have smaller paychecks than men. On average, women in Oregon earn 69 percent of what men earn. A different source of earnings data shows that when comparing just full-time wage and salary workers, the gender pay gap narrows to 83 percent of the median weekly earnings of men. In other words, the number of hours worked could account for nearly one-half of the difference in earnings between women and men in Oregon.

There are a number of articles on our website that address the topic of women in the workforce. Visit and search for “women” to see a list of available articles.

Employment and Earnings by Sex Data

Information about employment and earnings by industry and sex is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics (LED) partnership with the states. LED provides the most comprehensive data available for employment and earnings of women and men at the state and county level. Employment data is the average of quarterly employment for 2015. Earnings are the average of quarterly earnings in 2015 of workers who worked at least one full quarter during the year.

To explore and use the data available from LED, visit