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MN Makes Big Gains in Closing Gender Wage Gap

New numbers show Minnesota has eliminated the gender wage gap for certain government jobs. (iStockphoto)
March 1. 2016
New numbers show Minnesota has eliminated the gender wage gap for certain government jobs. (iStockphoto)

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Moves to close the pay gap for women have made significant progress in Minnesota, but the latest report shows there's still work to be done.

For jobs of equal value, the gender wage gap in Minnesota's state and local governments has been eliminated, according to the report from the state's Office on the Economic Status of Women (OESW).

But OESW Director Barbara Battiste says there's still about a 10 percent pay gap in the state's private sector.

"The reason for that lingering overall gender wage gap," she says. "Women tend to congregate in female-dominated, lower-paid occupations."

The report makes suggestions to help end wage discrimination in the private sector. For one, Battiste says Minnesota lawmakers should consider setting up new pay-equity rules for private companies that have state contracts.

She credits the State Government Pay Equity Act for helping boost women's pay in local government jobs from 77 cents on the dollar compared to men in 1994, to about 88 cents in 2015.

But Battiste says for jobs that have comparable value for employers, that gap has disappeared.

"The trouble is, men and women don't often do the very same job, so it's hard to say 'equal pay for equal work,'" she explains. "So, there's this idea out there of 'comparable worth.'"

She says by paying similar wages for different types of jobs that have comparable worth, Minnesota has become a leader on pay equity.

Battiste is now urging the state's university system to consider a similar pay structure.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN