Thursday, January 24, 2013

California Rules (Kind Of) for Working Women

By Azeen Ghorayshi
Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 3:50 PM

While the debate rages on — alternately tiringly and astutely — about whether today's women can “have it all,” one thing's for sure: We're still glaringly distant from anything resembling equal pay between men and women. Astonishingly or not, women's earnings in the US still barely inch past 82 percent of what their male counterparts make. But according to new data released today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California — at 89.9 percent — is the best state to rake in equal-ish pay as a woman. BLS representatives said they can’t definitively say what accounts for California’s high marks, but said that the numbers generally have to do with differing industries state-to-state, as well as the age composition of each state’s labor force.

It’s hard to give any accolades when discussing a situation that's still anything less than equal — and the remaining gap may prove to be much more insidious — but let's give a modest round of applause to the Golden State for at least leading the pack. Here are some more statistical goodies for you to ponder over, some expected, some surprising:

- Fair wages are on the rise: In 1979, women made approximately 62 percent of what men did. The wage gap has, with just a few exceptions, been shrinking ever since.
- Younger is better: The 16-24 year-old age demographic has the sweetest ratio: Women make approximately 93 percent of their male counterparts. The 25-34 year-old age demographic trails close with an average of 92 percent, while women aged 45-54 earn a meager 76 percent of their male counterparts. (Again, this is can partially be attributed to the kinds of jobs held in each age group; earning minimum wage doling out soft-serve at your local Dairy Queen in high school leaves little room for wage differences.)
- Race matters, a lot: Asian women and men earned more ($751 per week) than their White ($703), Black ($595), and Latino ($518) counterparts. Earnings differences between Asian men and women, however, were bigger than any other race category. Asian women earned 77 percent of what their male counterparts made, as compared to 82 percent for White women, and 91 percent for both Black and Hispanic women.
- So do diplomas: Weekly earnings for people without a high school diploma are still about two-fifths of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Louisiana is still the worst: In addition to being decades behind in education policies, the Bayou State is as behind in equal wages. Louisiana fared last place in the BLS study, with women earning an astonishing 68.7 percent of their male counterparts.

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