Women in Idaho working full-time jobs generally earn slightly more than three-fourths as much as men, according to a new federal study.
And it may seem the gap between men’s and women’s salaries is widening: Just three years ago, Idaho women were making more than 85 percent of what men made.
In 2016, Idaho women working full-time jobs reported median weekly earnings of $645, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said. That’s 76.5 percent of men’s weekly earnings of $843.
The study didn’t compare job-to-job. Instead, it measured wage differences based on a survey of 60,000 households nationwide.
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Economists say the difference in wages between men and women in part could reflect the differences in the kinds of industries that employ mostly women versus those that employ mostly men.
“Retail is an area where women are more predominant, and it’s lower paying,” Bureau of Labor Statistics economist Todd Johnson said.
According to the Idaho Department of Labor, women accounted for about 60 percent of the retail workforce in Idaho last year.
Women’s wages may also be lower if they work in education — a field dominated by women. And while women hold a significant percentage of hospital jobs — 75 percent of them statewide — oftentimes they are working in the lower-paying positions, such as nursing, Johnson said.
Idaho Department of Labor Regional Economist Jan Roeser said traditional gender roles can affect whether a woman attends college or how long it takes to graduate.
“The caretaker role is one that really impacts women,” she said.
Idaho’s wages overall are among the nation’s lowest.