The Relation of Age and Gender to Employment in Wyoming

Part One of a New Analysis Utilizing Wage Records

by: Brett Judd and Gregg Detweiler

Labor Market Information (LMI) is the most commonly used statistical instrument to measure how well an economy is performing. With all of the assumptions and hypotheses being formed about the national economy and its effects on Wyoming, we can use such an instrument to help answer questions such as: "Is the increase in employment due to new growth or multiple job holders?", "Are women replacing men in the work force? If so, are they being monetarily compensated the same as men?" and "Does age or geographical location have any effect on how an individual is financially rewarded?" We cannot answer these questions at a national level due to the time and money constraints of collecting a representative sample. However, these questions and more can be statistically tested at the state and local levels.

Over the past two years, Research & Planning has been compiling statistical data that has granted this section the ability to statistically test these very questions for Wyoming. The data sources that have been compiled consist of Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment wage records, quarterly covered employment by industry and the Wyoming Department of Transportation driver's license records.

Wage records are an administrative database used to calculate UI benefits for employees who have been laid off through no fault of their own. By law, each employer must submit quarterly tax reports to the state showing each employee's wage. The required information on this tax report includes the number of covered jobs held, social security number for each covered employee, employer's identification number, year, quarter and wages earned in the quarter. The information on this tax report is then entered into the Department of Employment's mainframe computer. The mainframe computer only maintains a minimum of the previous six quarters of wage records. Before the oldest quarter is dropped off the system, we "download" the wage record files to a microcomputer. Thus, we are able to maintain wage histories for workers in Wyoming over more than six quarters. Currently, we have four complete years of wage records. The latest update of this data is found in this issue of TRENDS.

Quarterly covered employment by industry (ES-202) refers to the count of employees and wages by industry from all employers subject to state and federal unemployment insurance laws. Covered employment refers to jobs worked; a person may be covered by more than one employer. This data accounts for 88 percent of Wyoming workers with the other 12 percent falling in the self-employed, unpaid family, majority of agricultural workers and covered domestics in private households. The ES-202 and wage record data are from the same source, however, the ES-202 data contains the employer's identification number, employer's name and address, standard industrial code (SIC), ownership, county, employment size class and quarterly wages paid by each employer. Presently, the ES-202 master database consists of seven complete years of data.

The Department of Transportation's driver's license file contains an individual's name, home address, sex, date of birth, social security number, license number and class, issue and expiration dates. With these types of data, we can test for any dynamic influences in the labor market over time, test in- and out-migration by county or city and perform various age and gender analyses. This article will focus on the employment and wage distribution by gender and will also provide information on age. A new database was built by taking the wage record and driver's license databases and matching on the individual's social security number (SSN). Using the matched SSN database the employer's UI identification number was matched to the ES-202 quarterly covered employment database to capture the employer's SIC code and ownership. There were 167,384 records in the sample, accounting for approximately 80 percent of covered employment.

Before a comparison can be done based on gender, a few points need to be emphasized. First, the data used for this analysis is for an individual's primary job only. The primary job is the one where the most wages were earned for a given quarter, which in this case was the third quarter of 1995. Second, rate of pay is not available from the tax forms. No distinction is made between full- and part-time employees. Another point to remember is that wages are typically related to an employee's years of experience or tenure with a company. Tenure, occupational details and skills are also not included in the tax report system (see Footnote 1). In some industries like Mining and Construction, even though women are employed, they may work in lower paying occupations. These are a few factors, probably not all, that need to be considered when doing a gender comparison.

Percent of Employment

The tables presented here (see Table 1 and Table 2) cover only half of all the industries; the balance will be included in the June issue of TRENDS. Refer to the Current Employment Statistics, for the complete list of industries. Only two industries have more than 60 percent female employment. Apparel & Other Finished Products (73.9%) employs many seamstresses. The majority of Transportation Services (62.0%) employment is from travel agencies.

If the same breakpoint is used when looking at the males, then 28 of the 39 industry groups have 60 percent or more male employment. Furthermore, 21 industries are more than 70 percent and five are more than 90 percent (see Footnote 2). Not surprisingly, every industry in Mining and Construction is male-dominated with the lowest percentage at 87.3. Transportation & Public Utilities, Agriculture and Manufacturing, especially Durable Goods, all have high percentages of male employment. Across the United States, women are playing a larger role in the workforce and the state of Wyoming is no exception. In the past fifteen years, we have seen women in Wyoming's labor force grow from 37.3 percent (see Footnote 3) to 46.4 percent (see Table 1).


This article focuses on gender as a discriminating factor with age included for descriptive purposes (see Footnote 4). The minimum age is in the teens for most industries, while the maximum is commonly in the 70's, 80's or 90's. Wyoming's workforce is very productive. The mean age (arithmetic average) is typically in the 30's or 40's for males and females. The average age of all workers included in this database is 38. The median (value where half the cases are less than and half the cases are greater than) is usually very close to the mean with a few exceptions. When the median differs from the mean, the number of individuals in the sample is generally small (less than 20).

Average Weekly Wage by Gender and Industry

Since some of the values for the minimum weekly wage in the database are quite low, it is evident that some people worked less than a full quarter (or part-time). The maximum wage varied widely between industries; the highest value was a male in Rubber & Miscellaneous Plastics Products. The average weekly wage for all employees (see Footnote 5) was $408.47. The difference between males and females was substantial, with males earning $528.29 and females $270.24. When comparing the mean wage to the median, similar to age, most industries were relatively the same with a few notable exceptions. For females, one exception was in Furniture & Fixtures where the median was $38.46 and the mean was $237.82. This, again, is probably a result of a small sample size for this industry. The biggest difference for males is in Rubber & Miscellaneous Plastics Products with an astounding mean of $1,294.83 and a median of only $369.28. This industry doesn't suffer from a small sample size. Also having notable differences among males were Primary Metal Industries and Electronic & Other Electrical Equipment.

As was mentioned earlier, other factors besides gender influence the amount of wages. While these other factors are not addressed in this article, some comparisons based on gender are still valid. In comparing the mean wages of the different industries, a definite pattern is evident. In every industry, males make more than females. In some industries, the difference is not that substantial ($50 - 100 per week), but in most industries the difference is $200 - 400. The difference is even greater than this in some industries.

Every industry was not included in this article. Next month we will look at Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate (FIRE), Wholesale and Retail Trade, Services, and Government. These are industries where women typically comprise a greater percentage of the employment. It will be interesting to see how the wages compare in these industries.

Brett Judd is a Senior Statistician and Gregg Detweiler is a Principal Statistician. Both specialize in Nonagricultural Wage and Salary Employment/Current Employment Statistics (CES) with Research & Planning.

Footnote 1:  To get an idea of how tenure with a company and wages are related, refer to the October 1995 issue of TRENDS.

Footnote 2:  Most railroad employment is not included in this sample since railroad workers are covered under a separate unemployment compensation system.

Footnote 3:  1980 Census data.

Footnote 4:  Subsequent articles in TRENDS will address age as a factor in earnings in greater detail.

Footnote 5:  While AVERAGE ACROSS ALL INDUSTRIES data is presented in the tables, these numbers also include industries that will be covered in the June issue of TRENDS.

Table of Labor Market Employment Send Your Comments
Contents Information Resources on TRENDS