A review of QWI Data: How Have Women’s Opportunities in the Workplace in North Carolina been affected by the COVID Pandemic?

Thursday, March 31, 2022
Author: 
Jamie Vaughn

As North Carolina’s economy continues to recover from the recession caused by the COVID pandemic, we wanted to investigate how women’s employment and earnings were affected to complement other LEAD research on this subject, “What Happened to Women’s Employment in North Carolina During the Pandemic?” and “What Happened to Women’s Work Hours in North Carolina During the Pandemic?” - both articles were based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS).  For this post, we analyzed U.S. Census Bureau QWI Explorer data in Q1 2019 and Q1 2021. Unlike the household-based CPS data on residents who can hold more than one job, QWI source data measures jobs that links workers to an employer and excludes those who are self-employed.

Our analysis discovered that women’s employment dropped by 0.7% (11,874 jobs) between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021, compared with a gain of 0.03% (623 jobs) for men. As of Q1 2021, women held 48.8% of all jobs, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from Q1 2019.

Looking at the industry level data can provide additional insights. According to the most current data, six industries employed more women than men.  Health Care and Social Assistance led the way with more than 4 out of every 5 jobs held by a woman, followed by Educational Services with more than 2 out of every 3 jobs.

Industries with Majority of Women Employment, Q1 2021

Source: Chart generated by LEAD staff using QWI data; Q1 2021 Employment

Of the six industries, only Educational Services and Other Services experienced increase in the share of jobs held by women.  Among all industries with percentage of jobs filled by women grew the most were: Transportation and Warehousing; Administration and Support; and Construction.

Industry with Women Employment Growth

Industry Q1 ’19 to Q1 ’21 Female Employment Growth % Female Employment Q1 ‘21
Transportation & Warehousing 2.5% 32.3%
Admin. & Support 1.1% 43.9%
Construction 1.0% 19.2%
Educational Services 1.0% 67.0%
Ag., Forestry, Fishing & Hunting 0.8% 32.5%
Real Estate & Rental & Leasing 0.4% 47.6%
Prof., Scientific, & Tech. Services 0.3% 48.4%
Manufacturing 0.2% 32.7%
Mining, Oil & Gas Extraction 0.2% 12.6%
Wholesale Trade 0.2% 30.2%
Utilities 0.1% 23.3%
Other Services 0.1% 50.8%
Health Care & Soc. Assist. -0.4% 80.6%
Accom. & Food Services -0.4% 56.0%
Finance & Insurance -0.8% 56.8%
Management of Companies & Enterprises -1.0% 48.7%
Information -1.0% 39.7%
Retail Trade -1.1% 51.5%
Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation -3.8% 44.2%
Source: QWI Data; Q1 2019 & Q1 2021 Employment

To provide a more complete analysis of women in the workforce, we also looked at wage changes  between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021.  Women saw faster real wage growth than men.  Wages grew 6.5% for women while men experienced a 2.1% increase. Despite this strong wage growth, women made $2,200 less than men in average monthly earnings.

Looking at industry wages, all but four industries showed earning growth for women.  The largest wage increases were seen in industries with a smaller size of women workforce: Arts, Entertainment and Recreation (17%), Information (11%), and Mining (10.8%).  Wage growth in the three top women  employing industries showed mixed results: Health Care and Social Assistance (8.1%) , Retail Trade (1.8%), and Accommodations and Food Services (0.3% decrease).  Women experienced faster earning increase than men in 13 industries. 

Women’s Earning Growth by Industry

Industry Female Earnings Growth
Q1 ‘19 to Q1 ‘21
Growth difference between Female and Male Earnings
 Q1 ’19 to Q1 ‘21
Arts, Entertainment, & Rec. 17.1% 14.1%
Information 11.0% -3.2%
Mining, Oil & Gas Extraction 10.8% -4.9%
Admin. & Support 9.2% 4.1%
Wholesale Trade 9.2% 6.5%
Health Care & Soc. Assist. 8.1% 2.2%
Prof., Scientific, & Tech. Services 8.0% 5.0%
Other Services 5.0% 7.4%
Educational Services 3.5% -0.1%
Real Estate & Rental & Leasing 3.4% 6.2%
Finance & Insurance 3.2% 4.5%
Management of Companies & Enterprises 3.1% 6.5%
Retail Trade 1.8% -1.4%
Construction 1.3% 3.2%
Manufacturing 0.3% 2.5%
Accom. & Food Services -0.3% 1.6%
Utilities -4.2% 4.2%
Ag., Forestry, Fishing & Hunting -5.4% -1.6%
Transportation & Warehousing -12.3% -3.7%
Source: QWI data; Q1 2019 & Q2 2021 Earnings; Q1 2019 Wages were adjusted using CPI-U

This analysis shows that there has been mixed news regarding women’s employment and wages compared to before the pandemic.  Women have seen slight decreases in their share of employment while also experienced faster real wage growth than men. Further research, including the rise of self-employment for women, will be helpful to see if this trend will hold as additional data become available. 

Note: At the time of this writing, Q2 2021 QWI data has been released for employment, but not for wages.