For Americans with only a high school diploma, the best-paying entry-level service jobs tend to be in manufacturing, mining and construction, and are multiplying at the fastest rate in three decades.
That’s bad news for women, a new report from Georgetown University finds: these jobs overwhelmingly go to men.
“If you don’t have that degree, you better be a guy,” said Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
According to the report, there are now about 13 million jobs nationwide that require only a high school diploma and pay at least $35,000 annually, a higher wage than most entry-level service roles, and yet three-quarters of them belong to men.
Employers and unions have lately tried to recruit more women into traditionally masculine trades. The effort has introduced paid maternity leave, for example, to some ironworking roles.
But the share of female employees in such areas has remained stubbornly tiny, Smith said.
Women hold fewer than a third of the country’s factory jobs, which can command salaries above $50,000, and they fill just 9 percent of construction positions. (The average annual income, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics: $40,000.)
Analysts say blue-collar jobs, even with increasing perks, have an image problem — society still doesn’t expect to see a woman wielding a jackhammer — and women who try to break into the industries face discrimination from bosses and colleagues.
Nearly 9 in 10 female construction workers have dealt with sexual harassment on the job, one Labor Department study found.
Since the recession, women without degrees have cycled into more enduring — if worse-paying — types of work:
• They tend to make a living in hospitality (51 percent female), child care (94 percent female), health care (78.5 percent female) and bookkeeping (60 percent female), government figures show.
• Secretarial and administrative roles typically provided bigger paychecks to women with high school diplomas — median pay: $37,870 per year — but such work is shrinking.
• The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5 percent job loss in the secretarial and administrative field over the next decade as more companies automate tasks like scheduling, record-keeping and data collection.
Nowadays, the jobless rate for women with only a high school diploma (4.7 percent) is higher than for men with the same educational attainment (3.5 percent). They’re also making less money.
Among workers without college degrees, women earn an average of 78.6 percent of what men take home, according to a recent analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (That ratio is 80.4 percent in the broader economy.)