Florida’s gender pay gap widens quickly
The gap in Florida between earnings for men and for women widened considerably over the most recent year studied, buttressing other data and a Miami-Dade County call for state legislation to balance the income numbers by gender.
Women in Florida who were working full time had median weekly earnings only 82.6% as large as men in 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. That figure was down 5.3 percentage points from the 2017 total of 87.9% of male earnings – the highest ever in the state.
Just days earlier, the US Census Bureau had issued its own five-year report that showed that in 2018 adult women in Miami-Dade County earned just 80.3% as much as male workers. The median was $35,501 for all working men versus $28,511 for all women.
The Census Bureau figures, part of the American Community Survey, offered a closer look based on educational levels. Women with a bachelor’s degree averaged 86.7% of the earnings of men with the same educational level, $39,731 for women versus $45,814 for men.
But when looking at graduate or professional education, the survey show women earned just 68.1% of men’s earnings at the same educational attainment, $51,298 for women as opposed to $75,273 median earnings for men.
Just before the surveys were released, the Miami-Dade County commission had voted 10-0 on Dec. 17 to urge the Florida Legislature to enact legislation that would ensure equal pay for women “by addressing disparities in compensation between men and women.”
That goal might not be easy to quantify in a way that balances multiple differentiators in employment income. As Janet Rankin, the regional commissioner for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, noted in introducing the report on Florida’s gender pay gap, “the earnings comparisons… are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences, such as job skills and responsibilities, work experience, and specialization.”
Some of those differences show up in the Census Bureau’s statistics for Miami-Dade that were just released, which show the distribution of employed women and employed men varies widely according to broad industry categories.
Management of business, science and other groups includes 29.4% of employed men but 36.2% of employed women. Service industry jobs are held by 17% of employed men but 24.8% of employed women. Sales and office jobs are held by 18.9% of working men but 37.3% of working women.
While women predominate in those areas, they trail far behind the employment percentages in two other areas. Natural resources and construction areas provide 17.9% of the working male jobs in Miami-Dade County but just 1.4% of jobs for working women, according to the new census data. The broad category of production and transportation provides 16.9% of the male jobs but just 5.4% of the female jobs in the county.
Earnings that vary among the broad job categories thus affect the overall earnings by sex. Adding to Ms. Rankin’s caution, boring down into employment subcategories such differences are also apparent, making it harder to generalize about overall earnings, since employment categories can vary widely in wage levels.
The Miami-Dade County Commission resolution in December that urged equal pay between men and women supported bills due to be acted on in the state legislative session that begins Jan. 14. Those bills, according to the county resolution, “would address the gender pay gap by prohibiting employers from paying wages to employees at a rate less than the rate paid to an employee of the opposite sex for substantially similar work.”
The county resolution sponsored by Daniella Levine Cava was co-sponsored by Sally Heyman before the vote. It noted that the county commission in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 had sought similar state legislation but that the legislature had not adopted any such bills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report noted that “in Florida, the women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio has ranged from a low of 76.3% in 2000 to a high of 87.9% in 2017. The state’s ratio has remained above 80% since 2003.”
Nationally, the median weekly earnings of women in full-time wage and salary positions in 2018 ranged from $637 in Mississippi to $995 in Massachusetts. In the District of Columbia, women received a median weekly wage of $1,259.
Median earnings for men were lowest in Arkansas at $809 and highest in Massachusetts at $1,170. In the District of Columbia men received a median weekly wage of $1,445.
California had the highest women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio in the nation at 88.3%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, while Wyoming had the lowest, at 67.8%.