By Tyler Worthington, Tian Ma, and Igor Lukashevich
One of the hottest topics in the 2016 presidential race is income inequality. Income inequality between the genders has been of particular interest. According to the White House, full-time working women are paid 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man. However, the labor market in the United States is far more nuanced than the White House seems to suggest. To see if their claim holds any water, Census Bureau data on the labor market in Florida were examined. The analysis found, as many other researchers have already, that the gap varies by age, education and occupation.
The gender wage gap in Florida is significantly narrower than the national median. Data from the 2015 Current Population Survey show that women in Florida are paid 87 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
However, this gap varies significantly as we go from comparing men and women in the aggregate to comparing men and women within the same age groups, education levels, and occupations. It’s misleading to analyze the earnings gap between 50-year-old women with Ph.D.’s working in the pharmaceutical industry to 22-year-old men working in food service and extrapolating that to the population as a whole. As the analysis gets closer to “comparing apples with apples,” men and women with similar characteristics actually have more similar incomes.
Research shows that age, experience, family decisions, education, and occupation are some of the main factors accounting for the gender wage gap. One major problem in analyzing this issue is the fact that since women who choose to raise families will earn less, even as women in professional positions are earning the same as their male counterparts, the average income for females will be lower than men’s. Certainly, sexism and outdated cultural norms regarding women in the workplace have had an impact on wages, but a gap may persist even when opportunities and incomes for women are equivalent to men in the same positions because of this statistical artifact.
|Age Group||Median Hourly Wage Gap
(cents for every dollar a man makes)
The gender wage gap differs largely by age group as well. There is a significant closing of the gap among younger wage earners, especially those categorized as Millennials. One possible explanation for this could be the cultural changes that have been taking place in the United States for the past several decades. The decrease in emphasis on females’ role as a homemaker could potentially have encouraged women to pursue careers similar to those chosen by men. However, it is also possible that as women and men grow older, they make different work decisions based on the needs of their families.
|Occupation Category||Median Hourly Wage Gap
(cents for every dollar a man makes)
|Production, Craft, and Repair||93|
|Personal Care and Personal Services||90|
|Office and Admin||105|
|Operators, Fabricators and Laborers||83|
|Food Prep, Building and Grounds, And Cleaning||90|
A comparison of occupations types finds the gap also substantially different. Economists Fields and Wolff found occupations that require more skilled labor tend to see a closing of the gender pay gap over time. With the exception of technicians, almost every higher-skill occupation category in this analysis followed that trend.
|Education Level||Median Hourly Wage Gap|
Finally, the gender pay gap shrinks as education level rises. As of 2014, the percentage of women with at least a bachelor’s degree was 30.2 percent, marking the first year that ‘they surpassed men, at 29.9%, in this accomplishment’. The larger pay gaps observed in older age groups may also be due to different education levels between men and women in past decades.
Data visualization using Tableau allows readers to see comparisons between women and men of the same age, occupation, and education level, see how the gender pay gap shrinks yet further. Once again, comparisons in the aggregate can be misleading.
Although the data do not allow for bold claims about what causes gender income inequality, both because of an insufficient sample size in our data and because of the nuances of this issue, the causes of gender pay inequality are more complex than the White House suggests. Looking at the U.S. labor market in the aggregate yields misleading results. The gap varies dramatically depending on age, education, and occupation.
The interactive chart shows how wages vary by gender, race, education, and age.
The data taken from the U.S. Census and uses a sample size of 1,517 males and 1,556 females in Florida. People over age 65 were excluded, since that is the usual retirement age, and people with less than a 12th grade education, as the majority of the workforce has earned at least graduated high school.
Click on the image below to experience all the interactive features of the graph.