4.2 Million Women Work at Poverty Level – 8 Times More Than Male Workers

Women are 8 Times More Likely than Men to Work in Occupations with Poverty-Level Wages

April 6, 2018

Women workers make less than menWashington, DC—There are 4.2 million women who work in occupations with poverty-level wages, more than eight times as many as the 0.5 million men who do, according to a new analysis of the gender wage gap by occupation released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) in advance of Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 10.

Women earn less than men in almost all 121 occupations for which there are enough data to calculate the gender wage gap. Women in the vast majority of occupations—107 of 121—face a sizeable gap, earning at least five cents less on the dollar than men working full-time in the same occupation. Women face the largest wage gap as personal financial advisors, where women in that job earn just 59 percent of what male personal financial advisors earn.

The analysis finds racial disparities compound gender inequality in the labor market. Black and Hispanic women are more than twice as likely to work in service occupations as White women. Hispanic women’s earnings are lower than the federal poverty threshold for a family of four in two occupational groups: ‘service’ and ‘natural resources, construction, and maintenance’ occupations, and they are just $1 above the threshold in ‘production, transportation, and material moving’ occupations. These three occupational groups employ a significant share (39.6 percent) of all working Hispanic women.

IWPR Program Director for Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch commented on the analysis:

“From the bottom to the top of the labor market, women across the board earn less than men in almost every job. The gender and racial segregation of the U.S. labor market has concentrated women, particularly women of color, in low paying jobs. Even when they do work in high paying occupations, women earn significantly less than men. Each week, women financial advisors make $683 less than their male colleagues. Imagine what the economy would look like if women were compensated equally for their work.”

IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. also commented:

“Women are nearly half of the U.S. labor force and their earnings have been critical to the economic security of American families for decades. Tackling stagnant progress on closing the gender wage gap should be the top of the economic agenda of any candidate running for office in 2018.”


The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences. IWPR also works in affiliation with the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics at American University.

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