gender profession gap March 12, 2024 on Chris Howey's blog

Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released an “Economics Daily” post1 showing the difference in wages earned between men and women. Demonstrating that women earn 83.6 percent of men based on the median full-time wage of salary workers by gender.

However, at the very end they stipulate that “comparisons of earnings are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that may be important in explaining earnings differences.” Quite the understatement. As a cursory glance at the accompanying table is instructive.

For example, “Legal occupations” shows an enormous weekly earnings difference of 1543 to 2301 between women and men. What’s hidden in the aggregate is that women are 3 times more likely to be Paralegals than Lawyers. News at 11: There is a wage gap between Paralegals and Lawyers.

Off the cuff, wouldn’t it be good to account for experience, education, and hours worked?

There is a Working Paper from NBER2 which attempts to account for reasons that explain gender differences, and among other things, suggests that “gender differences in occupations and industries are quantitatively the most important measurable factors explaining the gender wage gap… gender differences in location in the labor market, a factor long highlighted in research on the gender wage gap, remains exceedingly relevant.”

Essentially, more women are nurses, less are deep water welders.

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Women’s earnings were 83.6 percent of men’s in 2023 at (visited March 12, 2024). ↩︎

  2. Blau, Francine D and Kahn, Lawrence M (2016). The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations. Working Paper 21913. National Bureau of Economic Research ↩︎

⇒ This article is also available on gemini.