Alaskan women's median earnings increase by 6.8 percent

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) -


(App users, to view the interactive data visualization, follow this link).

Methodology:
Data is sourced from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics' Women's Earnings in Alaska – 2016 study, released on Sept. 21, 2017. The federal department says that it began collecting state data, since 1997.

According to the U.S. BLS, data is based on workers’ state of residence; consequently, workers’ reported earnings may, or may not, be from a job located in the same state. Additionally, this set of U.S. BLS data compares the median weekly earnings of people who were full-time wage and salary workers, in 2016.

- The U.S. BLS defines a full-time worker as: "People who usually work 35 hours, or more, per week at their sole, or principal, job."
- The U.S. BLS defines a wage and salary worker as: "These are workers, age 16 and older, who receive wages, salaries, commissions, tips, payments in kind, or piece rates on their sole, or principal, job. This group includes employees in both the public and private sectors. All self-employed workers are excluded whether or not their businesses are incorporated."

The U.S. BLS also says labor force, employment and unemployment estimates were obtained from the Current Population Survey.

Earlier this year, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development released a 2015 study on the state's gender gap findings. This study claims that the average Alaskan woman makes 68 cents to every dollar their male counterpart earned, in 2015. Aside from focusing analysis on different years, AKDOLWD's data primarily differs from the U.S. BLS data by incorporating all – full-time, part-time and seasonal – Alaskan workers in the data set. It should be noted that AKDOLWD's data set excluded the self-employed, federal civilian and military workers.

[Click HERE for KTUU's coverage and data visualization on the AKDOLWD's 2015 Gender Gap report]

Story:
Alaska's gender pay gap is narrowing, according to a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; however, the pay is still not equal.

Federal researchers found that in 2016, Alaskan women, who were full-time wage and salary workers, made an annual average of 82.9 percent of what their male counterparts earned.

This is a 6.8 percentage point increase for the state, since 2015. Furthermore, for the first time since 2001, Alaskan women's earnings – as a percentage of men's – rose above the national average, which was 81.9 percent.

Breaking this down to median weekly earnings, the U.S. BLS determined that the average Alaskan woman usually earned $841; meanwhile, their male counterparts usually earned $1,014 per week, on average.

According to the study, Utah had the lowest women's-to-men's earning ratio, at 69.9 percent. While Vermont had the highest, at 90.2 percent.

"The differences among the states reflect, in part, variation in the occupations and industries found in each state and differences in the demographic composition of each state’s labor force," states the report.

Last year, women's median earnings – as a percentage of men's – were the highest in occupations, including: sewing machine operators, combined food preparation and serving workers and teacher assistants. But women's median earnings were the lowest in occupations, including: personal financial advisors, insurance sales agents and physicians and surgeons.

In order to help close the gender gap, the YWCA started an initiative in May 2014 called, EconEquity. The goal is to eliminate the gender pay gap in Alaska, by 2025.

"We decided not to focus on politics and not to focus on legislation," says YWCA CEO Hilary Morgan. "And so we have a two-pronged approach."

She says this approach involves educating both working females and their employers.

"To educate women and girls about self advocacy [and] salary negotiation," Morgan elaborates. "And then educate employers about how they can create tracks – so that women can actually rise up to levels where they make equal amounts of money to men – and also look at their personal policies and procedures that show where the gaps are."

To take a closer look at the numbers, examine the interactive data visualization, above.

This article has been updated to include an additional video element.