Yes, the unemployment rate is at its lowest in two years, now standing at 8.8%. With a government shutdown looming, many federal employees face a furlough of possibly indefinite length (see the New York Times). This shutdown, and the likely financial problems for many employees, may have a disproportionate impact on women who are federal workers.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women make up 48 percent of the full-time, civilian federal workforce. However, women are overrepresented among federal workers with lower salaries: Women comprise 60 percent of federal workers with annual salaries under $50,000, but only 38 percent of federal workers with annual salaries over $100,000.
That is, the majority of women who are employed by the federal government work in lower-level, and lower-paying jobs, and stand to feel the pain of a furlough more quickly than many others. For instance: As noted in the New York Times, a government shutdown would mean that on-site child care centers run by many government agencies would be closed. Workers who are furloughed could of course care for their own children, but private-sector employees who use the centers and federal workers deemed ‘essential’ will have to make some very last-minute arrangements.
In 2009, female full-time workers made 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 23 percent, says the IWPR. While 40 percent of women who work for the government have a salary of less than $50,000, 62 percent of those with salaries over $100,000 are male.
Currently, women comprise about half of the US workforce. But for more than half of those women who work for our government, the pay scale is lopsided, to say the least.
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