Fact check: Monica Vernon cites pay disparities for women

Erin Jordan
Published: March 27 2014 | 10:42 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:13 am in Fact Check,

Introduction

“Nearly two-thirds of American families are fueled all or in part by women's paychecks. On top of that, women account for 75 percent of workers in the 10 lowest-paying jobs and constitute close to 60 percent of minimum wage workers.”

Source of claim

Monica Vernon, a Cedar Rapids City Council member running for the U.S. House's 1st District

Analysis

Monica Vernon, whose website identifies her as a “working mom for Iowa!,” delved into the issue of gender pay disparities in an email sent to supporters earlier this month.

The raw data for these claims comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Let's look first at the statement that nearly two-thirds of American families are fueled all or in part by women's paychecks. The BLS reports 65 percent of women with children under age 18 were employed in March 2010. If you assume these women are using their paychecks to support their families, that part of Vernon's statement is true.

She also claims women account for 75 percent of workers in the 10 lowest-paying jobs. The BLS's Current Population Survey tracks the number of people in specific professions and each profession's median weekly earnings.

According to this data, women made up about 58 percent of the 10 lowest-paying professions in 2013.

The National Women's Law Center, a partisan group that advocates for raising the minimum wage as a way to help women and families, uses a statement similar to Vernon's about the share of women in low-paying jobs. The group claims women make up 76 percent of the largest low-wage jobs.

By not counting some smaller, male-dominated professions — such as cooks and barbers — that also are low paying, the NWLC statement is accurate.

Vernon's last statement about women composing close to 60 percent of minimum-wage workers is true. The BLS reports 64 percent of women 16 and older are at or below minimum wage with 2012 annual averages.

Conclusion

On the whole, Vernon's three statements about women and their wages are mostly true. She was off when she said women make up 75 percent of the 10 lowest-paying professions. Woman make up 58 percent of these fields, the BLS reports.

But she could have been echoing a number used by other groups, such as the National Women's Law Center, which selected just the largest groups of low-income workers.

Sources

Share of women in professions: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm

Employment levels for women with children: http://www.bls.gov/cps/wlf-table5-2011.pdf

Minimum wage: http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2012tbls.htm#1


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