A new report released Tuesday by RBC Economics says the shakeup in Canada’s post-pandemic labour market saw nearly 200,000 women stream into jobs involving less in-person contact—and often significantly higher wages.
“This is far more than we would expect based on women’s pre-pandemic share of employment in these jobs,” said the report. “These shifts added $9 billion in additional household wage income for women and accounted for 15 per cent of the total boost to their earnings during the pandemic recovery.
“Yet women still reaped smaller wage gains than men who made similar moves. This is likely a result of more men moving into senior management roles.
“Canadian women disproportionately powered the workforce shift into low-contact, higher-paying and higher-skilled jobs. Though this has improved their earnings, a wage gap will remain until equal representation in senior management is acheived.”
Women didn’t just flood back into the workforce following pandemic lockdowns. Many of them changed the nature of the work they do—moving into higher-paid and more productive roles, said RBC.
“Labour force participation among working women hit a record high of 85.6 per cent in January. That’s a dramatic u-turn from the onset of the crisis, when participation plummeted to its lowest level in over 30 years. Aided by more flexible work arrangements and affordable childcare, this rebound also saw a wave of women take steps to advance or reshape their careers. This is particularly true for those working in high-contact sectors, like hospitality services, that were heavily affected by the crisis. These businesses—many of which were forced to temporarily close due to public health measures—experienced an exodus of roughly 178,000 employees,” said the report.
“Most of them were women. Despite filling ~55 per cent of jobs in these sectors before the pandemic, women have made up 80 per cent of the labour force movement away from them. In all, nearly 140,000 women have now streamed out of these jobs.”
The report said women accounted for more than half of the workers who started jobs in low-contact industries (including professional, scientific, technical services and finance, insurance, and real estate). More than three quarters of the women who shifted into these sectors had at least one post-secondary degree.
“Women who made this change have been rewarded with higher earnings. Of the $21 billion in added income created by the labour force shift to higher paid sectors over the pandemic, $9 billion (or 43 per cent) went to women. This accounted for 15 per cent of the total boost to women’s earnings during the pandemic recovery,” said RBC.
“Yet men reaped much higher wage gains. For instance, though women accounted for 60 per cent of jobs created in finance, insurance, and real estate alone over the course of the pandemic, they realized less than half (46 per cent) of the wage increases attributed to movement into this sector. In fact, women (with degrees) in finance, insurance, real estate and rental leasing earn roughly 85 cents for every dollar earned by men. And the wage gap in this industry is most pronounced among the employees with the highest education levels.”
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