The Great Resignation is working for women
- The pace of women’s wage increases has outpaced men’s for six straight months.
- The pay bumps come from women who quit their job for better opportunities.
- On the other hand, many lower wage women were forced to leave the workforce completely to be caregivers.
Over the past year, women have been leaving their jobs in droves — and it looks like many of them are quitting for better paying gigs.
That’s according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s wage growth tracker, which shows that the rate of wage increases for women has been outpacing their male peers for six consecutive months.
The Atlanta Fed’s data shows that women getting the raises are those who are joining the Great Resignation in search of a better deal. They may be landing higher pay, but that comes on the heels of a record departure of women from the workforce, especially among low-wage jobs. For this reason, the data may be only showing part of the story.
For women still in the workforce, the Great Resignation is working
Approximately 31% of women who switched jobs in the past two years received compensation packages, including salaries and bonuses, greater than 30% that of their previous positions, the Conference Board, a private-research group, found last month. That’s more than the 28% of men who also reported pay increases.
Dr. William Spriggs, chief economist at the AFL-CIO, told Insider’s Juliana Kaplan last year that although female workers have had a rockier pandemic recovery, they have also flocked to industries with a lot of potential for growth.
“With this transition going on, the workers who are employed are finding ways to get jobs in the sectors that are expanding and hiring,” he said, where “the annual pay is much higher.”
But roughly 1 million women left the workforce completely in the last two years
Though some working women are getting a raise, the American workforce has roughly one million fewer women than it did two years ago, the National Women’s Law Center found.
Emily Martin, NWLC’s vice president for education and workplace justice said in a statement last September that women in lower-paid jobs — which Black and brown women overrepresent — are largely leaving the workforce due to inadequate pay and a lack of childcare resources. This has made some figures about women’s workplace gains less reliable.
“As the women doing those low-paid jobs — in restaurants, in retail, as child care workers, as hotel housekeepers — left the workforce, the wage gap artificially appeared to be closing,” she said.
In terms of overall wages, women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to their male counterparts. Women who were full-time, year-round employees made 83 cents for every dollar men made in 2020, based on median earning data from the Census Current Population Survey. That’s about 17% less than men.
And although women are doing better in general, experts like Martin say that numbers like that of a closing wage gap don’t account for lower-paid women leaving the workforce and not coming back.
In terms of increased pay, low-wage workers, for instance, may still not be seeing satisfactory responses. They’ve been getting paid more for instance, but accounting for inflation, the average worker actually took a pay cut last year.
“Headlines about rising wages for frontline workers — even rising real wages — often obscure the reality that wage levels are still low,” according to a Brookings Institute analysis from December. “In today’s inflationary environment, even as wages rise, so does the minimal threshold for an acceptable wage level.”