Women in Retail Make $4 Less per Hour Than Men

A new study reveals that women in retail are paid much less than men. 

The study, released Monday by the public policy agency Demos, is called “Retail’s Choice: How Raising Wages and Improving Schedules for Women in the Retail Industry Would Benefit America.”

Relevant stats:

• The average male retail salesperson earns $14.58 per hour, while the average female salesperson earns only $10.58, a difference of $4.

• 49 percent of all retail workers are female; 55 percent of all low-wage retail workers are female.

• 7.2 million women work in retail, and of those, 1.3 million live in or near poverty (within 150 percent of the poverty line).

The study concludes that the retail industry—especially large retail chains—should increase full-time retail salaries to $25,000 per year, which would benefit all workers but would help women especially. 

Looking to the future, the study finds that, if current trends continue, 100,000 additional women will be in or near poverty and working in retail by 2022. However, if the largest retailers raised wages to $25,000 per year for full-time work, 437,000 women working today would rise up out of poverty or near poverty.

The study is also critical of just-in-time scheduling, the practice of using software to schedule workers’ hours based on projected demand. The practice makes regular hours impossible and leaves workers unable to budget effectively or schedule child care. 

“If the nation’s largest retailers improved by offering sufficient work hours and more stable, predictable schedules, another major obstacle for women trying to work their way out of poverty with retail jobs would be removed, and it would help to improve public health, education, and opportunity,” according to the study.