Where Women Work and How Much They Earn

by Michael Doughty

March 16, 2020

More than 912,000 jobs in Oregon businesses or state and local governments were held by women in 2018. 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 $3,690 per month in 2018, an inflation-adjusted growth rate of 1.8 percent from 2017. This continues a trend of relatively slow growth in wages seen throughout the United States. Earnings for women, just like employment, vary by industry.
Women’s Employment by Industry

Women outnumbered men in seven of Oregon’s 20 major industry sectors. The biggest difference between women and men in industry sectors 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%) and finance and insurance (62%). In contrast, women are noticeably missing from mining (15%) and construction (19%) worksites.
The health care and educational services industries have the largest number of jobs held by women. More than 205,000 of the jobs in health care and social assistance were held by women, and the industry employs 23 percent of Oregon’s female workforce. Retail trade also employs a large number of women (over 99,000 jobs), but the percentage of retail jobs is more evenly split, with 48 percent women and 52 percent men. Accommodation and food services ranks fourth in number of women workers, and women represent more than half of that industry’s workforce.

Women’s Average Earnings by Industry

Average monthly earnings for women in 2018 were $3,690. The industries where women earned the highest average income were management of companies and enterprises ($6,565), utilities ($6,037), and finance and insurance ($5,334). Industries where women earned the least in terms of average income were arts, entertainment, and recreation ($1,910), accommodation and food services ($1,866), and other services ($2,181).
Average monthly earnings of women were lower than men’s earnings in every industry. The ratio of women’s earnings to men’s ranged from a relatively close 87 percent in accommodation and food services to 51 percent in arts, entertainment, and recreation. 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.

Trends in Women’s Employment

The growth rate in employment for women (7.9%) from 2015 to 2018 was slightly higher than that for men (7.3%). Women’s employment growth was the highest in construction (24.7%), transportation and warehousing (18.4%), and other services (26.8%). Employment growth for women was slowest in finance and insurance and retail trade.
Earnings growth for women from 2015 to 2018 outpaced that for men in 16 out of 20 industries. Average earnings growth was highest in the information industry (18.6%) and lowest in other services (2.0%). Overall, earnings for women grew roughly 1 percent faster than for men.

The Wage Gap

The above data provide industry detail about the earnings of women and men in Oregon not available from other sources, but they do not help explain why women have smaller paychecks than men. On average, women in Oregon earn 70 percent of what men earn (not accounting for hours worked or type of job). Accounting for hours worked might partially explain the wage gap. According to an article published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings that were 81.1 percent of the median earnings for men who were full-time wage and salary workers. In other words, the number of hours worked could account for more than one-third of the difference in earnings between women and men in Oregon. A more detailed exploration of the causes of the wage gap would need to explore other data and might include job types, cultural, and social factors.

There are a number of articles on our website that address the topic of women in the workforce. Visit QualityInfo.org 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 2018. Earnings are the average of quarterly earnings in 2018 of workers who worked at least one full quarter during the year.

To explore and use the data available from LED, visit lehd.ces.census.gov.

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