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Report: Women in Minnesota have high workforce participation, but paid less than men

Women in Minnesota still make less than men
Women in Minnesota still make less than men 02:02

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota is a national leader for women's workforce participation but a gender pay gap persists, according to a new report from researchers at the University of Minnesota. 

The 2024 Status of Women and Girls report, a project collaboration with the Women's Foundation of Minnesota, shows that women overall — across race and ethnicity — make 81 cents for every dollar a white man makes. The difference in pay is more stark for women of color: Black women make 62 cents and Latino women make 57 cents.

Dr. Christina Ewig, director for the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota who helped lead the project, said one factor is what she called "occupational segregation" — more women are working lower-wage jobs. She testified before the Minnesota Senate jobs committee Monday.

"We have some jobs that are paid better, some jobs that are paid less and it just so happens that those jobs that are paid better happen to be male-dominated and those that are paid worse are female-dominated," she said.

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Minnesota is second in the nation for women's workforce participation rates, behind the District of Columbia. 

Women are more likely than men to work part-time or take time off from work to care for their children, resulting in breaks in work experience that further fuel the gender pay gap, the report detailed. 

And affordable child care is out of reach for many. Researchers determined a staggering 94% of Minnesota families spend far more of their paychecks on child care than what the federal government recommends, which is 7% of their income.

Paying for an infant to go to a child care center costs more than a University of Minnesota in-state tuition, the report said. 

"Sometimes women decide it is just not worth it to enter the workforce because the cost of childcare will outpace the cost of their wages," she said.

She suggested, among the solutions to close the gap, that the legislature raise the minimum wage or pass a pay transparency law. The report also mentions funding high-quality child care and enforcing existing equal employment law to prevent wage discrimination.

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