Report: Wage gap between sexes narrows slightly

Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Alaska women continue to earn less than men, but the disparity between the wages of the two genders is shrinking, a new state study showed.

The study from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, showed that women earned an average of $30,066 in 1999, which was $9,987 less than a decade earlier and 66.8 percent of what men earned on average.

Alaska women have improved their station by about 5 percent in the decade between 1999 and 1988, said Jeff Hadland, a state labor department economist who authored the study.

The study was published in the October issue of Alaska Economic Trends magazine.

No national statistics are available to compare Alaska's workforce trend to the United States, Hadland said. But U.S. Census figures show median income for women nationwide was about 72 percent of the male median income.

The study also showed that many industries in Alaska's workforce continue to be dominated by one gender.

Females make up less than 13 percent of all construction and mining jobs. Mining employment constitutes the highest average earnings in Alaska.

But females make up more than 60 percent of employees in areas of services, financial, insurance and real estate. Health services, insurance and local education accounts for the highest number of female workers, the study said.

''The gap is narrowing,'' said Hadland.

State Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, who champions numerous women's issues, said the gap isn't narrowing fast enough.

''That's a pretty long time to not come very far,'' said Kerttula. ''It's good (has) gone up, but it should be 100 percent, and that should be an immediate goal.''

The report offered no explanations for the pay disparity. But Hadland said the past work experience, education and sexual discrimination could all play a role.



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