Pay for women here 68.6% of what men earn Percentage ranks us third lowest in country. Women have been slow to move into certain jobs.
, BY TIM MEKEEL, Business Editor
Women working in Lancaster County earn about two-thirds of what men working here make, the third-worst ratio in the nation, a new survey shows.
The dubious distinction was reported Thursday by the business website 247wallst.com.
The county's meager status was found when the website studied 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data in search of America's 10 worst-paying cities for women.
(Technically, 247wallst.com examined median pay by gender in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, which are not necessarily cities. The bureau, for example, defines the Lancaster metropolitan area as Lancaster County.)
Median pay for women working in Lancaster County in 2011 was $32,446, or 68.6 percent of the median pay for men here, $47,318.
Only women in Ogden, Utah, at 65.2 percent, and in Provo, Utah, at 61.6 percent, fared worse, according to the report.
At the other extreme, women in Los Angeles fared the best. There, women had median earnings that were more than 91 percent of men's earnings.
The findings, announced on the eve of International Women's Day, did not surprise local job-market expert Scott Sheely.
Sheely is executive director of the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board.
"This is easy to explain. We've seen this pattern for years and years," he said. "It doesn't surprise me at all."
Sheely noted that the manufacturing, transportation and construction sectors are large in Lancaster County.
These sectors have some of the best-paying jobs in the county. The sectors also are predominantly male.
"We constantly encourage women to get into apprenticeships (which lead to construction jobs) or manufacturing.
"But women tend to flow more toward low-skill, low-wage jobs, which are in hospitality, health care and retail," he said.
Sheely said that major cities offer more jobs in high-paying business services. where women are better represented.
This category includes lawyers, accountants and information-technology positions.
So the pay gap between the genders is smaller in major cities.
In Lancaster County, not so much.
"We have a lot of middle-wage, middle-skill jobs," Sheely said.
"People tend to think of these jobs as inconsequential. But they pay very well. That's part of the message we put out there."
He estimated that 70 of the local CareerLink's 100 "hot jobs" fit this middle-wage, middle-skill category.
The list includes masons, printing machine operators, packaging machine operators, carpenters, welders, electricians, pharmacy technicians and refrigerator mechanics.
(The list can be found at jobs4lancaster.com. Go to "resources.")
"Everybody thinks if you're good at science and math, you go to college. But not necessarily. There's a very good career path in the technological world," Sheely said.
"You can be successful going to college, but there aren't that many jobs out there. There are many more jobs that require some training, though not a college degree.
"They have a technology component, a hands-on training piece. In the past, they were considered blue collar. But they're not blue collar anymore, because technology has reinvented them," Sheely said.
Employers, especially manufacturers, need people with technology training, and are willing to pay for it, the WIB leader said.
"If women were more open to these kinds of career paths, they would be able to access higher levels of pay," Sheely said.