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Women’s Foundation of Alabama reports potential for the state’s overall GDP to grow by $22 billion

Friday, the Women’s Foundation of Alabama released its 2022 economic impact report during a research showcase at The Club in Birmingham.

Over 100 women and men were present in-person to hear the report, and many more across the state joined the conversation virtually.

Women’s Foundation of Alabama stated in their opening remarks, “[T]his report is an important benchmark on the critical role that women in Alabama have on the state’s economy. The report – for first time in recent history – defines the economic impact of women in Alabama finding that women workers generate more than $43 billion in earnings annually.”

This means the 1 million female workers in Alabama account for one out of every three dollars of labor income. Imagine what this could mean for the economy if the two million women who dropped out of the workforce nationally since the pandemic rejoined.

With women making up half of the state’s workforce and 74.2% of Alabama women representing their families as the breadwinners, “there is a huge economic opportunity whether you believe in the wage gap or not,” stated keynote speaker Katica Roy of Pipeline – an award-winning company leveraging “artificial intelligence to identify and drive economic gains through gender equity.”

In its 63 pages, the report analyzes Alabama’s gender pay gap, gender gap in labor force participation, estimates the economic impact of women in Alabama’s economy, compares economic impact to GDP and shares interviews with female workers and leaders to “provide contextual detail of lived experience to the quantitative analysis.”

The foundation found that women are disproportionately working in lower-wage jobs, earning an average of 67 cents for every dollar men earn. One solution presented to assist in closing the gender pay gap was to “create fair access to occupations” by generating awareness of program training opportunities in occupations that are typically held by men.

Currently, occupations that employ more women usually pay the least. These include retail, childcare, food preparation industries among others. Introducing women to training programs in occupations such as welding, trucking, construction, etc. that are predominately male would contribute to fulfilling the state’s goal of attaining 500,000 skilled workers by 2025.

Based on its findings, Women’s Foundation of Alabama reports that “closing the gender pay gap in Alabama would create 59,000 new jobs, $15 billion in new income spent in businesses across the state, and grow the state’s economy by almost $22 billion.”

Women’s Foundation of Alabama president and CEO Melanie R. Bridgeforth, MSW said that “not closing the wage gap harms everyone and robs families and communities of the vibrancy and prosperity for which we are all reaching and striving.”

Read the full findings here.

Courtney Hancock is CEO of SoulGrown and Creative Services Director for Yellowhammer News.