November 20, 2023

Weekly EconMinute—The income gap of women in Alberta

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about the income gap of women in Alberta.

Women, on average, earn less than men. This gap is the result of a wide range of factors, including differences in: hours worked, representation across industries, and promotion to higher pay grades, as well as outright discrimination in pay for the same role.  

Over the last decade, the income gap in Alberta has narrowed substantially. Comparing the median income of women to that of men over this time, here’s what we found:  

  • As of 2012, women’s income was only 60% that of men—representing an income gap of 40% points. In other words, women earned just three fifths of what men did. 
  • Fast-forward to 2021, and Alberta has made notable progress in closing this gap. Based on the median income, women now make about 72% of what men make, a remarkable 12 percentage-point decrease.  
  • However, over the past decade, the gap has narrowed for two reasons:  
    1. women’s incomes have increased (by +0.6% per year, on average), and 
    2. men’s incomes have decreased (by -1.4% per year, on average).  

As such, the bad news is that a large contributor to the narrowing gap is that men are earning less, especially following the oil price collapse of 2014. But the good news is that women’s incomes have steadily grown over this time. This trend may even accelerate in the future as these numbers pre-date the Federal-provincial Childcare Agreement

Nonetheless, Alberta still has work to do to fully bridge the 28% gap that remains. Further progress means supporting women in their pursuit of previously male-dominated occupations and industries, ensuring access to affordable and high-quality childcare, and exploring how options like flexible workplace policies can help women more fully participate in the economy.   

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