HELENA — Montana women, on average, earn 74 cents on the dollar compared with what men make here, a report released Friday showed.

Women’s earnings in the state are the fourth lowest in the nation, the report said.

The Women’s Foundation of Montana issued the report, “The Status of Women in Montana,” by Kathy Kuipers and Celia Winkler, sociology professors at the University of Montana.

In Montana, a woman working full time, year-round, earns a median salary of $31,067 annually, compared to a man’s $41,635 median salary, for a gap of $10,568 yearly, the report said.

At the same time, 21 percent of Montana women obtain bachelor’s degrees, versus 18.6 percent of men, the report said. Yet the wage gap persists across all education levels with the exception of a doctoral degree.

“In Montana, women do not share equally in the economic well-being of the state,” the report said. “The wage gap shortchanges women, regardless of education, age or race/ethnicity.”

Statistics show that in Montana, 42.5 percent of households headed by women with children live in poverty, while one in five children live in poverty.

State Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy said the wage gap between women and men in Montana has improved since 2007 when the state had the largest disparity among the states.

“So we’ve improved a small amount, but we still have a long way to go in Montana,” Bucy said.

In a speech to some women’s groups that presented the report, Bucy said women are less likely to be in the labor force in Montana than men. Statistics show 60 percent of Montana women are in the labor market compared with 67 percent of men.

However, Bucy said Montana women in 2012 had a lower unemployment rate — 4.8 percent — than men, who had a 7.2 percent. She said the difference most likely is because male-dominated industries such as wood-products manufacturing and construction lost the most jobs during the recession.

Women, she said, earned more than men in these occupational categories: architecture and engineering; arts, design entertainment and sports; and food preparation and serving.

The worst occupations for pay equity for women in Montana were transportation, where women’s median pay is at 49 percent of men’s, and legal, where women’s median pay was at 44.6 percent of men’s.

Bucy said no industry paid women more than men, on average. The best industry in 2011 was construction, where women’s wages were 91 percent of men’s, but only 6 percent of construction workers were women.

Pay inequality for women was the worst in the finance and insurance industry, Bucy said. Women there are paid only 40.3 percent of men’s wages, despite making up more than 70 percent of that industry’s workforce.

Montana private nonprofits offered the greatest pay equity, with women at 89 percent of men’s median earnings, Bucy said. Local government workers were second at 86 percent, followed by federal workers at 83 percent and state government workers at 80 percent.

Private pro-profit workers experienced the greatest pay inequity, with full-time women earning only 66 percent of their male counterparts, the labor commissioner said.

Meanwhile, the other statistics cited in the Women’s Foundation of Montana showed:

-- Montana ranks higher than the U.S. national average in three out four categories of sexual violence.

-- More Montana girls report being bullied on school property than boys do.

-- American Indian women in Montana earn only 67 percent of men’s salaries and 93 percent of what the total population of Montana women earns.

-- Despite registering “remarkable gains” in the 2012 election, women continue to be underrepresented in positions of power. A higher percentage of Montana women vote than Montana men do.

A record 42 members of the 2013 Legislature, or 28 percent, are women. About 43 percent of state judgeships are held by women.

But Montana hasn’t elected any female members of Congress since Jeannette Rankin in 1940 and has had only one female governor in history, Gov. Judy Martz, elected in 2000.

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