SWPA 2016 Highlight: Non-College Pennsylvania Women Still Playing Catch Up

John Neurohr |

The post below is one of a series of posts about specific trends examined in the recently-released annual edition of The State of Working Pennsylvania.

We’ve already laid out how Pennsylvania men without a college degree have not shared in Pennsylvania’s economic gains over the past few decades. What about women?

White women with less than a bachelor’s degree in Pennsylvania have fared a little better than similarly-educated men, experiencing a 13 percent increase in hourly earnings since 1979-81 — a one third of one percent increase annually. Black women with less than a bachelor’s degree saw their inflation-adjusted hourly earnings decline 1 percent in the last 36 years.

White, black and Hispanic women all still earn less than white men of the same education level; white women earn 76 cents for every dollar a white man earns, black women 69 cents; and Hispanic women 60 cents.

Wth productivity up 71 percent since 1979, the Pennsylvania economy has continued to generate new income: that income just hasn’t shown up in the paychecks of most workers, female or male. If we had an economy that spread gains equitably, working women without a college degree would have seen substantial gains in hourly wages over the past few decades. Their annual incomes would have grown even more because female labor force participation has significantly increased.

So who is capturing all that new income? Data from the Internal Revenue Service, which tracks the growth of income from all sources (salary and wages, rents, capital gains and profits) reveals a radical redistribution of income since 1979 in Pennsylvania. In a state with 6.8 million families, the top 1 percent or 69,000 families have captured just over half (51 percent) of income growth since 1979. The top 5 percent in Pennsylvania have captured 77 percent of all income growth in the state since 1979.

As laid at the end of The State of Working Pennsylvania 2016, If we want wages and family incomes to rise steadily again, we need to shift away from policies that funnel so much of the benefits of economic growth to a tiny slice at the top.

Learn more about “The Agenda to Raise Pennsylvania’s Pay” that concludes SWP 2016 here.

Learn more by reading the full report, The State of Working Pennsylvania.