April 05, 2020

Maine women diligent> Female work force abundant, poorly paid

ORONO — Women in Maine are more likely than other American women to be in the work force, but they hold low-paying jobs with little chance of advancement, according to a study at the University of Maine.

The university’s Bureau of Labor Education conducted a year-long study that examined wages, benefits and the types of jobs women hold. Researchers looked at information from state, federal and academic sources.

“As a group, Maine’s women workers — whether they are in the paid labor market, on welfare, or full-time homemakers — face greater economic insecurity than men workers for a number of reasons,” the study concludes.

The study found that many Maine women continue to work a “double shift” of paid jobs followed by domestic duties. It also found that increasing numbers of women are working out of economic necessity.

On the average, women have lower incomes than men and work longer weeks in combined paid work and home-based work. And, in contrast to earlier generations, women are more likely to be in the labor force for most of their adult lives, regardless of whether they have children, the study said.

It found that in 1995, 61.6 percent of Maine women were working, while the national figure was 58.9 percent.

Most of Maine’s working women, the study found, perform jobs traditionally dominated by women and that pay relatively small wages. Women are disproportionately concentrated in three categories: administrative support, retail sales and service.

The study also found that job trends for the future look bleak for Maine women. Even though six of the seven top jobs with the largest projected growth through 2005 are predominantly held by women, most pay low wages and offer few opportunities for advancement.

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