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Reports: WYO Tax Break May be Linked to Gender Wage Gap

January 11, 2010

CASPER, Wyo. - Five years of sales and use tax exemptions for the manufacturing industry show a significant wage gap for Wyoming workers, according to a new review of the numbers.

Sarah Gorin, research director for the Equality State Policy Center, compared the data. She says the differences in pay for the same job categories are significant – and, based on the nature of the jobs, are not easily explained away by men having higher education levels or more work experience.

"There's certainly enough here to raise some red flags – 423 women are so much less qualified than 157 men, that they're making an average wage of $6.50 an hour less."

The bottom line, says Gorin, is that the tax exemption was promoted as a way to lure companies to the state with good-paying jobs. If that's not happening, she explains, the state could consider a "clawback," stopping a tax break or even attempting to recover lost revenue when a tax break has not produced as promised.

"If we're seeing substantial gender wage gaps, then we should say at the least, these people shouldn't be getting a tax break. This is certainly an aspect that is affecting a lot of people."

Clawback measures are traditionally opposed by businesses, who say job creation can be affected by unforeseen economic conditions.

There is a caveat in all of this, according to Gorin. The Wyoming data is not tied to national manufacturing codes and can't easily be compared to wages nationally, or in other states. She says more research should be done to come up with a plan of action to ensure Wyoming does not lose revenue without gaining benefits elsewhere.

The full review is online at http://equalitystatewatch.blogspot.com.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY