Miami-Dade County

In Miami-Dade, a woman earns 87 cents for every dollar a man makes

Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava during her first meeting as a county commissioner in 2014.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava during her first meeting as a county commissioner in 2014.

Women consistently earn less than men do in Miami-Dade, with a new study showing wide gaps in a range of occupations, including high-earning positions in architecture, law and management posts in county government itself.

In 2014, full-time female workers in Miami-Dade earned 87 percent of what full-time male workers made, according to the county-funded report by Florida International University. In the local legal field, men earn double what women do, the largest gap among Miami-Dade’s best-paying occupations.

In Miami-Dade government itself, the second-largest employer next to the school system, men tend to achieve more financial success as they climb the career ladder. Female supervisors earn an average of about $73,000, compared to just under $83,000 for male supervisors — a 13 percent gap.

“These are structural barriers that exist not only in Miami-Dade County, but throughout the country and the world,” Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who sponsored the legislation funding the study, said at a press conference Tuesday morning. “We know, for example, that women often start at lower salaries and then they never catch up.”

 

Titled “The Status of Women in Miami-Dade County,” the $14,000 report by FIU’s Metropolitan Center lays out the local dimensions of a longstanding, national divide across the country. Nationally, women earn just 79 cents for every dollar made by a man, meaning Miami-Dade’s gender gap is considerably narrower.

These are structural barriers that exist not only in Miami-Dade County, but throughout the country and the world.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.

Researchers point to a string of factors behind the pay gap, including women being more likely to take part-time work and leaving the workforce during childbirth and early years of raising children. But academics also see structural discrimination in many of the elements, including the idea men are exempt from career sacrifices tied to child-raising and discrimination in wages for occupations that tend to employ more women than men.

Maria Ilcheva, the FIU researcher who led the study, pointed out there was only one major sector in Miami-Dade where women earn more than men. That’s construction, a finding that Ilcheva said surprised her research staff. But with women making up just 7 percent of Miami-Dade’s construction employees, the pool of earners is small enough to skew the numbers. In sectors where women make up the majority of employees, men still come out ahead on payday.

Women make up 53 percent of employees in Miami-Dade’s finance industry. But the typical man in finance earns $44,000, compared to $37,000 for the typical woman, according to the study. Women dominate the industry category that includes both healthcare and education, making up 73 percent of that workforce. The typical Miami-Dade man in that industry earns $41,000, and the typical woman $30,000.

Women make up 53 percent of employees in Miami-Dade’s finance industry. But the typical man in finance earns $44,000, compared to $37,000 for the typical woman, according to the study. Women dominate the industry category that includes both healthcare and education, making up 73 percent of that workforce. The typical Miami-Dade man in that industry earns $41,000, and the typical woman $30,000.

Even in the 10 highest-paid occupations for women in Miami-Dade, men earn more in each category: 40 percent more in health diagnostics, 34 percent more in architecture and engineering, and 114 percent more in legal.

Ilcheva said the gender gap also applies when it comes to who owns a Miami-Dade business. Firms owned by men tend to have more employees and more sales than do firms owned by women. She said that suggests help for women-owned businesses could pay dividends for the wage gap. “There is a lot opportunity there,” she said. “The majority of employment in Miami-Dade, and across the country, is in small businesses.”

The report shows women making quicker gains than men on a number of economic fronts in Miami-Dade. The number of women-owned firms in the county grew by 61 percent between 2007 and 2012, to 187,379. For men-owned firms, growth was 11 percent to 239,190. Between 2005 and 2014, women in Miami-Dade saw their earnings grow by 18 percent, compared to 3 percent for men.

FIU’s report included an analysis of Miami-Dade’s 28,000-person payroll, and found a significant gender gap in paychecks. Men make up 59 percent of county workers, and tend to make 14 percent more than female workers.

Only 8 percent of the county’s male employees work in jobs classified as clerical, compared to nearly a third of the county’s female employees. The average male supervisor in county government earns $83,000, compared to $73,000 for the average female supervisor, according to payroll data from 2016. Women do earn more in some smaller management categories: they make four percent more as assistant division directors and about 1 percent more as deputy directors. And the best-paid employee in county government is female: County Attorney Abigail Price-Williams earned about $343,000 in 2015.

Ilcheva said the county payroll data lacks educational information, making it impossible to link gender as the lone factor behind compensation differences. She said that while the study points out detailed differences in county pay among men and women, the results shouldn’t be read as revealing gender discrimination.

“We’re kind of dancing around the issue,” she said. “The finding is there is a gap.”

  Comments