The Gender Wage Gap, by State

We have blogged and written extensively about the gender pay gap, much of which is not attributable to discrimination, as is commonly invoked. President Obama has taken up the cause; he recently signed two executive orders aimed at closing the gap.  Business Insider recently posted a state-by-state breakdown of the gender wage gap. It is interesting to look at but keep in mind the non-discriminatory factors that contribute to the gap, and therefore consider these numbers with some skepticism:

Wyoming has the biggest pay gap — the median male full-time worker made $51,932, and the median female full-time worker made $33,152. The male worker thus made 56.6% more than the female worker.

Washington, D.C. had the smallest gap — there, men make 11.0% more than women. Among the states, Maryland and Nevada had the smallest gaps, both at 17.2%.

Julien Couvreur

Since much of the wage differences are not due to discrimination, but skills, experience, job description, etc, maybe it is better to discuss the gender skill gap, the gender profession gap, the gender staying-at-home gap, etc.

Talking about a "gender pay gap" makes it seem like you might be able to police wages (attractive talking point for politicians). But in fact the most important factors are more subtle and probably related to culture.

Phil Persinger


Let's stipulate your objections to the 77% figure, but your comment indicates that the factors you mention do not account for all of the wage gap. My understanding has been that when all variables are controlled, the gap still runs in the 7-10% range. This column discusses the situation

Given the asymmetrical power relationship between employer and employee and the diminished presence of union bargaining in the workplace (at least in the US), how would you suggest this remaining gap be closed if not by anti-discrimination law? As Casserly says, 7% is not negligible


When looking at wage and compensation the gap is even smaller. I read a study that women prefer benefits over wage. So if I offer 9k pay and 1k in benefits, that will attract a woman more than a 10K pay which would attract men more. Wages and pay are very single dimensional. What are the compensation gap numbers? The hard thing there is that there are things like work flexibility that have a cost but that is hard to quantify. If I let you take off for family things, that is lost productivity that I am paying you still for.

Even then, it has also been shown that women also don't negotiate pay (or benefits) as often as men. The pay gap alone shrinks dramatically when you stratify for those that did and did not negotiate their pay.


According to the posted article, the male in Wyoming out earns the male in New York?
I smell some data manipulation.


New York is full of poor.


New York is also full of rich people. Wealth isn't income. I can earn a lot but if I spend alot more on the same things, I am not going to have as much. I think few people would believe that cost of living in NY is lower or the same as the cost of living in WY. I don't think data manipulation though. Just bad data like you generally get with rough aggregates.


Women must believe they are worth more and negotiate for higher wages to reduce the wage gap. No business is going to hand out a higher wage if they can get away with paying a person less than another with the same job. imagine there isn't a woman in DC that didn't fight like heck every step of the way to get herself where she is (excluding those born and raised in DC).

Enter your name...

The gender gap is mostly about industries, not about negotiations with individual employers. If women want to have higher pay, they need to leave companies that pay worse and go work for companies that pay better.

Large employers often have someone in HR whose job is to make sure that their female employees are getting paid as much as their male employees. The problem is that Big Company, which happens to hire 70% men into this job, pays *everyone* a lot better than Other Company, which happens to hire 70% women. The result is that "women" are paid less in this industry, even though both companies are paying each of their employees exactly the same amount of money.

Rick Loomis

This term needs to be changed. Many will think "gender wage gap" describes men and women working the same job, and women getting payed less. Now if you want to discuss gender hiring discrimination, or certain jobs discriminating against women, yes.


It seems that people have made a decision on this issue and then ignore the complexity. The issue is presented as discrimination that women have trouble overcoming. My husband is a teacher and he is paid equivalently to women with the same education and experience. When you break it out in this manner I believe that the data would show more equity. This would especially be true when comparing responsibilities of men and women in the workplace. As a corporate accountant I work with men and women. Some women make more and some men make more, but when comparing jobs at the same level we are pretty similar. The major discrimination that I have noticed deals with men (especially single men). There seems to be a gender bias about work hours. Many women in the office will come in late, leave early and take days off without question. Using their children as excuses that are viewed negatively for men. Women seem to use the excuse, "I've got to go pick up my kids from daycare" on a daily basis and leave as soon as they have stayed the minimum number of work hours. Men, on the other hand are viewed in a negative light if they leave to pick up kids, come in late or leave early due to childcare. Maternity leave is another huge factor that should be considered. I work with a man (who makes less than many of the women) who only took off one day when his kids were born. However, we women took months off of work. He may have had the same days and benefits available to him, but there is a huge stigma against men caring about family. Men will work more hours on average in a salaried job, which could eventually lead to promotion (and more pay) because they have proved to be available and work longer hours consistently.


Helen DeWitt

Seems like something is missed out.

Suppose you have two states, A and B. In A, women's pay is 60% of that of men for comparable work. In B, it's 70%.

A has a proactive law on stalking and swiftly enforced laws against trespass. B's stalking law requires threat to life; it treats trespass as a joke. (It takes 5-6 months to reach plea bargain, a year to go to court; nobody goes to jail for trespass; so the victim who files a complaint has to move out and pay for alternative accommodation while the case goes through the system. Violations of conditions of release may well mean the defendant is repeatedly released; victim is deprived of right to occupy property for up to a year.)

In B, women's financial disadvantage vis-a-vis men does not arise primarily from discrepancies in income; it arises from being a second-class citizen as a propertyholder. Whatever income a woman happens to have, she has no guarantee of being able to deploy it to comparable advantage.

Her real problem is not that she earns 70% of what a man earns; it's that, compared with a man on the SAME income, she may have to pay twice or three times as much for similar goods. The book price of a house conceals the many thousands of dollars a year she may have to pay for accommodation on top of the mortgage. If she works from home, her vulnerability under the law may mean the payment gap is much larger. Performing equal work which brings in 70% of a man's earnings would be a bonanza; thanks to the luck of the state draw, she may live on the run, performing zero to 10% of the work she might otherwise have been paid for. The gap is not one of wage discrimination, it's one of entitlement discrimination.