RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Women aren’t making as much money as men in Wake County.
That’s what the recently-released State of Employment for Women Report is revealing.
The report investigated the challenges women face in finding and keeping jobs, income inequality and returning to the workforce after an absence.
It found that in 2014, women over 25 were making on average $34,806 in Wake County. That’s $15,000 less than men of the same age with the same educational background.
The report also uncovered that female students who dropped out of high school made less than their male counterparts.
Females without a high school diploma make $12,811 a year while male dropouts bring in $18,933.
There are 79,000 women in Wake County who have a GED or less. The report found more than half of those women are living in poverty.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners decided to create the Wake County Task Force on Employment and Wage Issues for Women to address the issues impacting local working women.
Commissioner Caroline Sullivan will chair the task force. Sullivan says she was disappointed when she read the statistics.
“I knew there would be an income disparity, but I did not realize we would be worse than the national average,” said Sullivan. “The national average is 79 cents to the dollar. We are at 69 cents to the dollar.”
Sullivan says now that they know about the inequality, it’s time to shine a light on it.
“I think a lot of people didn’t know. I didn’t know. Nobody that I talked to knew that this income variance was so great,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just discussing it, talking about it and figuring out a way that everybody can work together to address these issues. I do think it’s going to be better.”
Sullivan will lead a group of up to 18 community leaders to make up the task force. They will be appointed by the board of commissioners.
She says she hopes the diverse group will develop and deliver some actionable items to the board like training workers to advocate for themselves.
“Women have a really hard time in a job interview asking what they’re worth. They also have a hard time asking for promotions,” she said.
She also wants to call attention to businesses to make their workplaces more flexible.
“We found a lot of barriers for women who have children. Sometimes these women have to leave the workforce. What ways can we work to get these women back in the workforce? That’s a win-win for both the companies and the women who are at home,” said Sullivan.
The task force will work together for 10 months and then present a strategic report to the board. That’s expected to happen early next year.
To read the full State of Employment for Women Report, click HERE.