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Report Cites Economic Power of Wyoming Women

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Monday, July 12, 2021   

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Women left the workforce during the pandemic at higher rates than men, and a new report suggests full economic recovery won't be possible if employers do not find ways to bring them back.

Rebekah Smith, director of the Wyoming Women's Foundation, which produced the report, said women workers boost local economies because they invest 90% of what they earn on local goods and services.

The report projected Wyoming would lose at least $45 million in Gross Domestic Product if every Wyoming woman stayed home from work for just one day.

"And so when you look at those two factors together, you see that women not only are contributing a huge amount to the GDP in Wyoming, they are also investing the majority of the money that they earn back into their communities," Smith explained.

Smith contended closing the gender wage gap would help. In 2019, the median average wage for men in Wyoming was $50,000. Women took home just over $37,000. While some argued a majority of women take jobs that tend to pay less, for example, 90% of Wyoming workers in health-care support jobs are women, Smith countered the report suggests ways to make it feasible for women to access higher-paying jobs and leadership positions.

Paid sick and family leave programs can also help more women return to the workforce, because women are more likely to stay home with sick children or other family members.

Smith pointed out access to high-quality and affordable child care, and more flexibility in work hours, would also allow women to work and maintain family commitments.

"With the recent pandemic, that's been something that employers have been more open to, and seen that works can go on in a flexible way," Smith observed. "That's one thing that can be done to encourage women to take on higher positions."

Smith added the report offers opportunities for policymakers to maximize the ability for women to earn self-sufficient wages, enough to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance.

According to the Wyoming Women's Foundation's most recent self-sufficiency standard for Wyoming, a single adult with one preschooler would need to make at least $16.22 per hour in Uinta County, and $29.70 per hour in Teton County.


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