Study Finds Gender Wage Gap in Nevada

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Women in Nevada earn 77 cents for each dollar that men do, and minority women earn even less, according to a report released this week by a national women's group.

The median yearly income for a Nevada woman is $27,500, ranking the state 31st in the nation, the report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found.

Nationally, the median wage for men is $39,500, while the median wage for women is 23.8 percent less, at $30,100, the report said.

"The perception among some folks is that women have achieved equality with men, but the wage gap is alive and well," said April Shaw, co-author of the study.

The report title "Women's Economic Status in the States," was based on data from the 2000 Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which had numbers from 2002.

When comparing the size of the gap between men's and women's wages, Nevada fares better than the national average, ranking it 17th in the country. Nationally, women make 68 cents for every dollar earned by men.

The biggest disparity in Nevada is between Hispanic women, whose median yearly income is $22,100. That is half the median wage of white men, who collected $44,200.

Similarly, Native American, black and Asian American women in Nevada earn 62 cents for every dollar white men earn, the study showed.

Jill Winter of the Nevada Women's Lobby in Reno said the disparity is the result of a high number of women in service- or sales-related jobs.

Sixty-four percent of working women in Nevada are in sales, administrative support and service, compared to 53 percent nationally. These jobs, which are traditionally lower paid than professional or skilled trades, are disproportionately filled by women, Winter said.

If wages for Nevada women are low, it's not because of employment practices at hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, said Arte Nathan, senior vice president and chief human resources officer of Wynn Resorts.

"These companies are very sensitive to this issue of diversity and glass ceilings for all members of protected classes," Nathan said.

He rejected the idea that service jobs in casinos were driving Nevada median wages down. For entry-level jobs such as housekeeping and kitchen work, the casino industry pays double or triple what employers pay in other cities, he said.

D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer of Culinary Union Local 226, also said it was unfair to blame low wages on the service sector, especially the casino jobs the union represents.

The union's contract guarantees equal pay for equal work to its membership, 60 percent of which is female, Taylor said.

"The total package here for people who do (service sector) work is better than anywhere in the United States," he said.