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By the Numbers - Women in the Workforce: A Difficult Year

By Carson Gorecki
April 2021

51.5% - Is the share of jobs that were held by women in the first quarter of 2020 in Minnesota (see Table 1). By the second quarter that number fell to 50.2%. Historical Quarterly Employment Demographics data show that the share of jobs held by women typically falls from the first to the second quarter. The 1.3 percentage point decline in 2020 was double the average from 2003-2019, however.

$3.97 – Is the gender pay gap as of the first quarter 2020. On average, women workers earned wages equal to 87.3% of what men were in Minnesota. The median hourly wage for women workers rose from $20.35 in the first quarter to $21.23 in the second quarter, breaking a 14-year streak of Q1-Q2 wage declines. In addition, the pay gap shrank slightly to $3.80/hour.

396 – Is the number of hours worked by the median female worker in the first quarter of 2020. This total translates to just under 30.5 hours per week and fell by 15 hours to 381 in the second quarter. By comparison, the typical male worker worked 471 hours in the first quarter and 472 hours in the second quarter of 2020. A worker on a 40-hour per week schedule would average 520 hours per quarter. The median number of hours worked for women grew from 362 (27.8/week) hours a quarter in 2003 to 388 hours per quarter (29.8/week) in 2019. By comparison, the male median hours worked has hovered around 480 (36.9/week) since 2003.

-6.2% - Is how much women's employment fell from Q1 to Q2 2020 in Minnesota, according to the U.S. Census' Quarterly Workforce Indicators. This period captures the initial large decline in employment caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the same period, male employment declined by 4.3%. The share of women workers varies considerably by industry. Female employment was most concentrated in service-providing sectors. 78.6% of Healthcare and Social Assistance and 68.9% of Educational Services jobs were held by women in Q1 2020. Conversely, only 9% of Mining, 14.4% of Construction, and 23.3% of Utilities jobs were filled by women workers (see Table 1).

Table 1. Women Employment by Industry in Minnesota, 2020

Industry Percent of Jobs Held by Women - Q1 2020 Percent Employment Change Q1-Q2
Female Male
Health Care and Social Assistance 78.6% -3.1% -1.8%
Educational Services 68.9% -1.0% 1.9%
Finance and Insurance 57.8% -1.8% -1.5%
Other Services (except Public Administration) 57.7% -16.1% -9.2%
Accommodation and Food Services 55.1% -24.8% -22.3%
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 52.7% -22.3% -18.3%
Total, All Industries 51.5% -6.2% -4.3%
Retail Trade 50.7% -8.8% -4.7%
Management of Companies and Enterprises 50.6% -6.1% -4.4%
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 49.7% -3.5% -4.0%
Public Administration 49.1% -3.5% -3.8%
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 47.7% -1.4% -1.5%
Admin. Support and Waste Management Services 43.2% -11.8% -8.9%
Information 40.9% -5.5% -5.4%
Wholesale Trade 29.7% -1.8% -0.5%
Manufacturing 29.6% -2.7% -1.6%
Transportation and Warehousing 27.7% -6.2% -6.4%
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting 26.9% 4.3% 1.7%
Utilities 23.3% 1.4% 1.1%
Construction 14.4% -0.1% 1.0%
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 9.0% 0.7% 2.3%
Source: DEED Quarterly Employment Demographics, U.S. Census Quarterly Workforce Indicators

Just as female employment varied by industry, so did COVID-related impacts on employment. However, in 13 of 20 sectors, female employment either declined more or increased less relative to male employment. The largest relative employment losses were in the Accommodation and Food Services, Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation, and Other Services industries. Women were more likely to hold a job in these industries, but also more likely to have lost it at the beginning of last year. In fact, women employment declined more than men's employment in each of the eight industries where women workers account for more than half the workforce. Those jobs typically held by women – more often service-providing – appeared to be hit harder than those more often held by men. Even in the male-dominated industries of Construction and Mining, female employment had more negative outcomes.

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