More Idaho Women Start Businesses. Fewer Work Part-Time. But Men Are Still Paid More

By Nicole Blanchard
The Idaho Statesman

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Census data released last week shows that Idaho still has one of the worst gender pay gaps in the country.

The Idaho Statesman

Before Jesse McKinney was old enough to crawl, her mother was preparing her for a world in which being a woman made the workplace less welcoming.

“My mom actually named me Jessica, but she gave me (the spelling of) a boy’s nickname so when people looked at my resume, they’d be more likely to hire me,” said McKinney, who co-owns Idaho-based Red Aspen, a company that manufactures false eyelashes.

The number of female entrepreneurs like McKinney is on the rise in Idaho. Women’s wages are increasing at a faster rate than men’s are, and state labor officials say women are entering the workforce in droves.

At the same time, census data released last week shows that Idaho still has one of the worst gender pay gaps in the country. Last month, a finance website declared Idaho the second-worst place to be a woman. Days before that, efforts to bring a Women’s Business Center to Idaho failed once again.

What do these conflicting figures say about the landscape for Idaho’s working women?

Widening wage gap
Idaho women make 75 percent of what male workers make, according to an American Association of University Women analysis of census data. That’s lower than the national average of 80 percent, and it leaves Idaho 46th in a ranking of states — again. More alarmingly, it’s a slight backslide from last year’s figure of 76.5 percent, further widening our state’s gap since 2013, when women made about 85 percent of what men made.

Despite that, women’s wages have actually grown by some measures, said Robert Kabel, research analyst supervisor for the Idaho Department of Labor. Between 2009 and 2016, median earnings for female workers in Idaho increased 11 percent, or about $3,100, while men’s median earnings increased only 7 percent — $2,800.

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