Report: Women in Alaska earning far less than men

Posted: Tuesday, October 07, 2003

ANCHORAGE - Men still earn far more than women working in Alaska, according to a new state study.

The study looks at total earnings for all workers in the state, ranging in age from 16 to older than 75. This study found that on average, women earn 66.4 percent of what men do.

State labor economist Alexander Kotlarov took earnings from unemployment insurance forms filed by all employers in the state, and age and gender from Permanent Fund dividend applications. The study comes more than a decade after state labor economists first examined the difference.

Nationally, women earn about three-quarters of what men make, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure compares only full-time workers, to adjust for the fact that more women than men work part time, said Linda Babcock, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon's School of Public Policy and Management.

In that regard, Alaska is on par with the rest of the country, with women making 76.4 percent of men's earnings.

The method used in the study left out sole proprietors, from fishermen to artists. There were 11,500 self-employed women in Alaska in 2002, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 40 percent of the state's self-employment total.

Alaska's earnings gap varies between sectors and regions, but women generally earn less than men across all industries, even those they dominate.

The difference has decreased over time. In 1988, women brought home 62 percent of what men made.

In the private sector, women still earn 62 percent of what men do. They fared best in local government, Kotlarov reported, where they make 82 percent of men's earnings.

Women electronics engineers, computer hardware engineers and first-line supervisors/managers of police and detectives all made more then their male counterparts, on average. Women make up less than a quarter of the workers in those professions.

Kotlarov said researchers have been brainstorming different approaches for the Alaska study to capture more in-depth information, such as long-term tracking of individuals, but do not have the money to implement them.

There is a race gap as well as a gender gap. White workers of either gender earn more than black or Hispanic workers, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national survey said white women earn 15.5 percent more than black women and 35.3 percent more than Hispanic women. White men's earnings were 34 percent higher than black men's, 58.4 percent higher than Hispanic men's.

Kotlarov said the state has no data on racial differences in Alaska.

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