Maine Jobs Council Releases Report on Maine Women’s Earnings Bookmark and Share

April 1, 2008

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 Contact: Sharon Barker (207) 581-1501

In observance of Maine Equal Pay Day, the Women’s Employment Issues Committee of the Maine Jobs Council today releases Working Women In Maine: Indicators for Progress 2007, a report on working women in Maine, concluding that progress made in recent years to close the gender wage gap has stalled, with women still earning significantly less than men and more likely to live in poverty. “Governor Baldacci asked me to lead the charge on pay equity, with a goal that hard work would always lead to fair and equal compensation. Even with more employer education and enforcement of equal pay statutes, the downturn in the economy is making it very difficult for working women’s earnings to keep pace with their male counterparts’,” said Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman.

“The economic security of Maine families rely more and more on the wages earned by women,” said Sharon Barker, Director of the Women's Resource Center at the University of Maine. “When Maine women are economically secure, their families, their communities and the state as a whole benefit.”

The report tracked women’s success in the labor market based on eight primary indicators, including data on employment, wages, education and health insurance coverage.

The report’s findings include:

  • In Maine, women who worked full-time had a gender wage gap with full-time men of $0.76. Maine’s gender wage gap was one-cent wider than the national average, ranking 27th among all the states.
  • The gender wage gap between men and women narrowed with higher educational attainment. Women earned $0.57 for every $1.00 earned by men when they both had high school degrees. When both had college degrees, this rose to $0.68.
  • Initiatives such as on the job training, apprenticeships, and other programs help women advance their pay. Women placed in nontraditional occupations through Maine’s CareerCenters earned an average hourly wage of $14.54 compared to women’s average hourly placement wage of $10.69.
  • In addition, the report includes a discussion of minority women in the Maine workforce. There is so little data available about minority populations, and women in particular, that the report concludes that the lack of data collection both reflects and contributes to the invisibility of minorities in Maine. This invisibility makes it difficult to press for better programs and services to improve economic security and working conditions for minority women and their families.

    The 2007 report also contains five policy recommendations:

  • Offer and strengthen programs that educate and train women and girls about the opportunities available in good paying nontraditional occupations.
  • Recognize, initiate, and institutionalize child and family care services through every available avenue, and ensure that these services are high quality, accessible, and affordable.

  • Educate all job seekers using Maine Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services programs about the dynamics of the Maine workforce, pay equity, safety standards, recourse for discrimination and sexual harassment, and negotiation rights.
  • Adopt the state’s livable wage estimates as the standard for income security in Maine, rather than the federal poverty level.
  • Develop outcome measures, analyze, and report on the extent to which income security and workforce development programs implemented through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Labor are providing equal access and assisting women to achieve economic security, and include breakdowns by race, ethnicity, and national origin.
  • The Women’s Subcommittee of the Maine Jobs Council fosters action on current factors affecting women’s participation in the workforce. The committee highlights employment issues, develops recommendations to the Maine Jobs Council, and proposes and promotes policies, programs, and legislation that provide full economic opportunity for all Maine women.

    A copy of the report is available on the Maine Jobs Council website at: www.maine.gov/labor/mjc/women. For more information, contact Peaches Bass at (207) 623-7985 or TTY: 1-800-794-1110.