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Employment & Earnings

While the pay gap locally has gradually narrowed over time, it still exists, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and women of color (BIPOC). BIPOC women also experienced higher rates of unemployment, especially in Hampden County. Women with young children had a harder time economically during and after the pandemic, often because of the lack of affordable childcare. Many transgender and gender diverse job seekers, as well as immigrants, have experienced discrimination in hiring and employment. The lack of stable, affordable housing challenges economic security.


Across all four counties of Western MA, women and girls completed higher levels of education than men and boys.

Educational Attainment by Gender and County

Educational attainment is an important factor in reducing poverty and expanding opportunity. Women continued to outpace men in level of education across all four counties. In the chart below, college attendance is measured by None (no college), Some (some college or associate degree), and Completed (bachelor degree or higher).

Female Male





U.S. Census, ACS, 2021 Five-Year Estimates, for population 25 years and older

Gender Wage Cap

Academic achievement among women continues to show growth, and regionally women are completing higher levels of education than their male counterparts. However, women continue to participate in the labor force at lower rates than men, and, on average, continue to earn less than men.

Percent Participation in Labor Force by Gender and County


No data available for gender diverse people. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2016-2021.

Women’s Earnings Proportional to Men’s by County

Based on past 12-month median income

Women’s Earnings Proportional to Men’s by County

Source: U.S. Census, ACS, 5-Year Estimate 2013-2017

Women’s 12-Month Earnings Ratios Compared with Every Dollar Men Earned by Educational Attainment and County

Less than high school graduate High school equivalent Some College or Associate’s Degree Bachelor’s Degree Graduate or Professional Degree
Berkshire 0.64 0.68 0.76 0.72 0.75
Franklin 0.84 0.55 0.75 0.79 0.74
Hampden 0.67 0.66 0.66 0.76 0.83
Hampshire 0.64 0.68 0.78 0.73 0.76

Source: U.S. Census, ACS, 5-Year Estimate 2013-2017

Women’s 12-Month Earnings Ratios Compared with Every Dollar White Men Earned by Race/Ethnicity and County

All Women White Asian 2+ Races Black/AA Latinx





Source: U.S. Census, ACS, 5-Year Estimate 2013-2017

Gender pay gaps are widest among Latina, Indigenous, and Black women. The wage gap is also inequitable for LGBTQIA+ workers, especially those of color, Indigenous, and/or trans. Nationally, the greatest pay gap based on gender identity is for trans women, who earn only 60 cents of the typical worker’s dollar in wages.

Source: County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. Connecting the Gender Pay Gap to Health. Accessed on April 6, 2023.

Female Median Earnings by Selected Race/Ethnicity and County, 2021

Latina Black White






Source: U.S. Census, ACS 2021 1-Year Estimates. Note that Black female median earnings is missing for Franklin County

Female Unemployment Rate by Selected Race/Ethnicity, Hampden County, 2012–2021

Latina Black Indigenous Asian White

Source: U.S. Census, ACS Five-Year Estimates. Note that data for Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander were incomplete and therefore omitted.

A 2020 Oxfam analysis found that if all American women earned minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house and caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5 trillion in 2019.

Source: Gus Wezerek and Kristen R. Ghodsee. Women’s Unpaid Labor is Worth $10,900,000,000,000. New York Times. March 5, 2020. Estimate based on methods used by Oxfam in its report, Time to care: Unpaid and underpaid care work and the global inequality crisis. January 2020.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey data for Massachusetts (n=1,195) found that one in five transgender respondents who sought or had employment reported hiring or workplace discrimination.

Source: U.S. Transgender Survey, 2015.


Please visit the “About this Research” page to view acknowledgments related to this data.

Dropout Rate

Across the four counties, for the 2017-2018 school year, girls had lower rates of dropping out of school than their male counterparts. However, dropout rates varied across the region.

Dropout Rate by Gender and Region, 2019

Lower dropout rates among female students were consistent with statewide data.

Springfield Hampden County

North Adams Berkshire County

Massachusetts Statewide

Source: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 2017-2018 Dropout Rates. Available at: www.doe.mass.edu/infoservices/reports/dropout/. Accessed. April 5, 2019.

In all counties, female students were more likely to skip school because they felt unsafe.

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