So let’s start off with the good news: today the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the ration of women’s to men’s wage earnings is higher in Hawaii than in any other state in the U.S.
“In 2014, Hawaii women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings of $739, or 92.8 percent of the $796 median usual weekly earnings for their male counterparts,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics posted today. “Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden noted that the women’s to men’s earnings ratio in Hawaii increased 8.6 percentage points from the previous year. Nationwide, women earned $719 per week, or 82.5 percent of the $871 median for men.”
This is indeed good news. As you can see from this graph, women’s earnings in Hawaii have skyrocketed since 2011, while those of the nation as a whole have overall been pretty flat:
Great, huh? Yeah, though there’s still plenty of room for improvement. To find out more, I asked Makawao writer Shay Chan Hodges, author of Lean on and Lead, which deals with mothers who work (she and Cathy Betts also have an op-ed in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser on efforts to enact paid leave in Hawaii, which you can read here if you’re a subscriber). While emphasizing that the news was indeed good, she also provided this context:
First, Hawaii is a strong union state, which means Hawaii has had a good ration of women’s to men’s earnings for a while. This is true because Hawaii has a lot of low-wage, non-professional jobs–”Generally speaking, the lower wage, the smaller the gap,” she said.
Image of the 1918 oil painting ‘The Munitions Girls’ by Alexander Stanhope Forbes: Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons