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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

September 23, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Did Amazon’s growth widen the gender pay gap in Seattle?

Amazon employees fill the sidewalks at lunchtime in the South Lake Union neighborhood (Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Amazon employees fill the sidewalks at lunchtime in the South Lake Union neighborhood. (Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

We’ve got some good news, and some bad news.

First the good news: Guys in Seattle are making bank.

Data released last week by the Census Bureau show that the median earnings for Seattle men who work full-time increased by $7,000 between 2012 and 2013 — a 12 percent jump in just one year.

That ranks as the heftiest rise in pay for men in any major U.S. city. And with that big increase, men’s median earnings here hit $67,000 – third-highest behind San Francisco and Washington, D.C., in that order.

You can probably guess the bad news.

Actually, it could be worse: Women’s wages didn’t go down in 2013. But they hardly budged. The median earnings for female full-time workers here plateaued at $52,000 — about 1 percent higher than the previous year.

If this sounds like Seattle guys all got big, fat raises while women got nothing, that’s probably not what happened. A more likely scenario is that a lot of high-paying new jobs were filled by male workers last year, which in turn bumped up men’s median earnings. But the same wasn’t true for female workers.

And that could be an unintended consequence of Amazon’s recent growth spurt in Seattle.

We all know Amazon has been on a hiring spree lately, filling the South Lake Union neighborhood with thousands of lanyard-wearing new staffers. Like most tech firms, they pay well — and they mainly hire men.

According to census data, people living in Seattle who are employed in tech had a median pay of $91,000 last year — and 79 percent of them are male.

Of course, it’s great that the guys here are prospering. For one thing, it means they can afford to pay those ever-increasing Seattle rents, which we wrote about last week in FYI Guy.

But since there was no corresponding wage increase for women, it caused the city’s gender pay gap to balloon.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In 2013, women who live in Seattle earned just 78 cents for every dollar earned by men — down from 86 cents in 2012.

That 8 cents drop represents the largest 1-year widening of the gender pay gap among major U.S. cities, and puts us tied with Tulsa, Okla., as the fifth-worst in 2013.

That can’t be welcome news for the Seattle City Council, which in May authorized an action plan to address the discrepancy between men’s and women’s wages.

Looks like they’ve got their work cut out for them.

Related: Amazon worker: ‘Tech is still so male-based and unbalanced’

 

 

 

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Comments | More in Demographics, Government Data | Topics: Census, gender, income

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