Exploring Gender Differences in Employment and Wage Trends Among Less-Skilled Workers

46 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2006 Last revised: 21 Feb 2021

See all articles by Rebecca M. Blank

Rebecca M. Blank

U.S. Department of Commerce

Heidi S. Shierholz

University of Toronto - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2006

Abstract

In contrast to less-skilled men, less-skilled women have experienced growing labor force involvement and moderate wage increases. Compared to more-skilled women, less-skilled women have fallen behind. We investigated the reasons behind these trends in labor force participation and wages for male and female workers of different skill levels over the past 25 years, from 1979-2004. We find that less-skilled women have found themselves in an 'intermediate' place in the labor market. Like less-skilled men, they experienced deteriorating returns to education but, unlike the men, they benefited from a growing positive impact of accumulated experience on labor market outcomes. More-skilled women experienced both growing returns to education and greater accumulation of experience, leading to faster wage growth. In addition, at the same time that experience levels have grown, the returns to experience on wages and labor force participation have also risen among less-skilled women, while the returns to experience have declined among less-skilled men. The negative effect of children and marital status on wages and labor force participation has also declined markedly among women of all skill levels.

Suggested Citation

Blank, Rebecca M. and Shierholz, Heidi S., Exploring Gender Differences in Employment and Wage Trends Among Less-Skilled Workers (August 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12494, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=927378

Rebecca M. Blank (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Commerce ( email )

1401 Constitution Ave, N.W.
Rm 5838, HCHB
Washington, DC 20230
United States
202-482-3727 (Phone)

Heidi S. Shierholz

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

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