More on Earnings in Nontraditional Jobs

Last week I wrote about how women can earn more in a nontraditional job, based on research I did using data from the American Community Survey 2005-07. I looked at the occupations of about 4.6 million women and about 4.3 million men who reported their income, and I found that women in nontraditional occupations (those with 25% or fewer women) had 23.1 percent higher earnings. However, these earnings were less than those of men in the same occupations.

I have done some additional research to compare the ages and working hours of the women and men in the various groupings. For example, are women in nontraditional jobs paid less than men partly because the women are more likely to be newcomers (presumably younger and with lower skills) than the men--or because the women average fewer work hours per week?

After doing the analysis, I found only very small age differences among the groups. For example, the women in the nontraditional jobs averaged 15 percent less pay but were, on average, only a couple of months younger than the men in the nontraditional jobs. Women in nontraditional jobs also were, on average, only a couple of months older than the women in all jobs. So it seems that age differences don’t explain the differences in pay, and therefore seniority in the job probably also is not a factor (although age and seniority are not the same thing, because people enter jobs at different ages).

On the other hand, I found significant differences in the working hours per week. In the nontraditional-for-women jobs, both the women and men averaged more work hours per week than their counterparts in all jobs, and this may partly account for the higher female earnings in the nontraditional jobs. The women worked fewer hours than the men in both kinds of jobs, but the difference was greatest (13.8 percent fewer hours) for the women working in the nontraditional jobs. Again, this may be the best explanation for women’s 14.8 percent lower earnings in these jobs.

One additional analysis I did was to look at the earnings of men in nontraditional jobs (i.e., jobs with 75 percent or more female workers). The results were shocking: These men earned $23,656 per year—half the $47,754 averaged by men in all occupations. This pay gap is not going away: Over the past decade, earnings (for all workers) in female-dominated occupations have climbed by 29.6 percent, compared to 33.1 for all occupations.

So last week’s heading, “Earn More in a Nontraditional Job,” is valid only for women.

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