In Some States, Women Will Earn Less Than Men for a Century to Come
The gender wage gap has gotten considerable attention in recent weeks, thanks to several high-profile speeches advocating for the cause of equal pay for men and women doing the same jobs. A new report out Thursday from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research confirms what Patricia Arquette said at a U.N. Women’s event on Tuesday: the gap in the U.S. won’t be closed until 2058. Not only that, but in some states, equal pay won’t be achieved until next century.
Which states will take the longest? Wyoming wins this dubious distinction: It isn’t expected to close the pay gap until 2159, more than 100 years after the rest of the country, according to the report. Louisiana, North Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia also won’t close their wage gaps until the 22nd century. It’s no surprise, then, that Louisiana, Utah, and West Virginia also boast the largest percentages of female residents in the lowest-earning quartile.
Just as some states lag behind the rest of the country in closing the gender wage gap, others are ahead of the pace. Florida is expected to become the first state where women’s median annual income will match that of men, in 2038. Yet Florida is not among the states where women earn the highest salaries. That honor goes to the District of Columbia, where the median annual income for women is $60,000—twice that of women who live in Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, or South Dakota.
It makes sense, then, that D.C. ranked highest in a composite category of women’s employment and women’s earnings. D.C., along with New York, has in recent years made the biggest strides in women’s employment and earnings combined. These gains have come even faster for millennial women nationwide, who, although facing high levels of unemployment, overall experience a narrower wage gap than generations preceding them. In New York, for example, millennial women actually earned a higher median salary than men between 2011 and 2013.
It may come as no surprise that women’s incomes vary not only by age, state, and education—which increases earnings but doesn’t totally eliminate the wage gap—but also by ethnicity. Women of Asian/Pacific Islander descent have the highest median annual earnings at $46,000, followed by white women; biracial women; black women; Native American women; and Hispanic women, whose $30,9000 was the lowest. Hispanic women also suffer the greatest wage gap, with median annual income just above half that of white men.
The new data shows that Arquette was right when she told a crowd of U.N. world leaders that the pay gap has barely budged in the last decade. “If it continues at this snail’s pace, we are going to have to wait until 2058 in America to have wage equality,” she said. But women who live in Wyoming, Louisiana, West Virginia, and a handful of other Southern states likely won’t see the wage gap close in their lifetime—or within the next century.