AZ's rare CD4: Where women out-earn men

Former 8th District, which covered half of Tucson, had state's biggest wage gap in '11
2012-09-27T00:00:00Z 2012-09-27T15:43:24Z AZ's rare CD4: Where women out-earn menJoe Henke Cronkite News Service Arizona Daily Star
September 27, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Women earned more than men in just 12 of the nation's 435 congressional districts in 2011, and one of those districts was in Arizona, according to a new report.

Women in Arizona's 4th District, which until redistricting this year included southern Phoenix and parts of Glendale and Guadalupe, had a median income of $29,169 in 2011, $111 more than the median income for men there.

By contrast, men statewide made almost $6,500 more than women, according to Census Bureau data analyzed by the National Partnership for Women and Families.

The former 8th District, covering Southeastern Arizona, including about half of Tucson, posted the largest wage gap in the state, with men earning almost $12,500 more than women.

Glendale area officials could not explain the performance of female earners in the district there, but they were happy to claim some credit for it, through efforts of the city and the local chamber of commerce.

But while women in the former CD4 did well compared to men there, the report also showed median incomes in the district were the lowest in the state. In the other 11 districts nationally where women out-earned men, the median incomes were also the lowest or among the lowest in their states.

Nationally, the wage gap has been unchanged for about a decade, with women earning 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. The group examined 2011 wages by congressional district to see how the pay disparity played out on a state level.

Data such as these can "better enable women to fight wage discrimination," said Sarah Crawford, the organization's director of workplace fairness. While the partnership knew a wage gap existed, Crawford said she didn't expect it to be so sweeping.

"I think ultimately what stands out is that you can look around the country and in 97 percent of all districts men bring home more than women," Crawford said. "This one district in Arizona is one of the outliers."

The Census Bureau numbers showed that some of the jobs where women made more than men in the former CD4 included health care, sales and office occupations.

Don Reinhart, Glendale Chamber of Commerce president, noted that Glendale hosts a large medical community and also has one of the largest city government systems in the West Valley.

Health care could be part of the reason that the wage gap is so close in the former CD4, said Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W.P. Carey School of Business.

"One of the areas in the Arizona economy that has done well right through the recession was health care," McPheters said. "It supports occupations, tends to be a part of the economy that pays higher than average and employs more women than average."

The wage gap can be narrowed if women find their way into those positions, McPheters said. But he noted that, while that may close the overall gap, it does not address the particular issue of men and women in the same job where "women are paid less."

While there are good jobs, and good wages, to be found in health care, McPheters said overall incomes in the district are likely being dragged down by other, not-so-lucrative jobs.

"The composition might be more undocumented workers, it might be a more mobile district," McPheters said of the former CD4 having the lowest median salaries in the state.

Reinhart said city and chamber officials continue to work to bring higher-paying jobs to the area.

But for now, he believes the numbers are accurate and that women are doing relatively well compared to men in the area.

Arizona earnings

Median 2011 earnings in the eight congressional districts (in place before redistricting in 2012), for those 16 and older in full-time, year-round jobs.

STATEWIDE

Men: $42,544

Women: $36,048

Gap: -$6,496 (Women earn 85% of men's pay)

DISTRICT 1

Men: $39,658

Women: $34,162

Gap: -$5,496 (Women earn 86%)

DISTRICT 2

Men: $45,557

Women: $35,932

Gap: -$9,625 (Women earn 79%)

DISTRICT 3

Men: $49,862

Women: $41,291

Gap: -$8,571 (Women earn 83%)

DISTRICT 4

Men: $29,058

Women: $29,169

Gap: +$111 (Women earn 100%)

DISTRICT 5

Men: $51,309

Women: $41,023

Gap: -$10,286 (Women earn 80%)

DISTRICT 6

Men: $49,607

Women: $40,578

Gap: -$9,029 (Women earn 82%)

DISTRICT 7

Men: $35,406

Women: $28,045

Gap: -$7,361 (Women earn 79%)

DISTRICT 8

Men: $48,598

Women: $36,121

Gap: -$12,477 (Women earn 74%)

Source: Census Bureau 2011 American Community Survey (Table B20017)

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