Job outlook a mixed bag for women

For several years, women in Maine have continued to dominate jobs as secretaries and administrative assistants, elementary and middle school teachers, registered nurses, nursing, psychiatric and home health aides, and cashiers, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

“The top five (jobs) did not change between 2008 and 2013; it is likely to be virtually the same this year,” said Glenn Mills, chief economist for the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research. “You’ll find larger numbers (of women) in lower-skilled or lower-paying jobs.”

Mills said Maine’s growing occupations offer opportunity for both men and women. Especially for women, the job outlook is looking brighter than in years past, said Ruth Graves, workforce development specialist for Women, Work & Community, which has assisted Maine’s workers for the past 36 years.

“We are seeing more women excel to higher-paying positions in technology, legal, and financial services and administration, especially in more metropolitan areas of Maine,” said Graves.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the top five jobs for women in Maine have remained the same since 2008. Graves said while she agrees with the census findings, “it is important to note that job opportunities vary from region to region in the state for women,” however.

The Maine Department of Labor’s Maine Workforce Outlook 2012-2022 found that two-thirds of the state’s jobs fall into the following sectors: health and social services, manufacturing, hospitality, retail, and professional and business services.

“As Maine grows closer to the year 2022, educational, retail services and manufacturing are anticipated to decline in terms of job growth in many areas of the state,” said Graves. “Health care and social assistance are expected to see the greatest increase, followed by leisure and hospitality and professional and business services.”

And because Maine’s population is the oldest in the nation, “elder care services will create a demand for health, social, professional and business services in the state,” said Graves. “Jobs in direct health care, patient advocacy, healthcare administration, financial and legal and public safety services will most likely increase as the demand increases.”

Eloise Vitelli, director of program and policy development for Women, Work & Community, said despite the roles women play in any occupation, they still earn less money than their male counterparts.

According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median earnings for women nationwide who are working full time, year round were just 77 percent of men’s median earnings (a gap of 23 percent.)

“In any of these areas, we would encourage people to develop technical skills, as well,” which lead to higher-paying jobs, said Gilda Nardone, executive director for Women, Work & Community. For example, “the levels of skills we are needing from administrative assistants is much higher than it was many years ago,” she said.

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