The Gender Wage Gap Across the U.S.

Studies
The Gender Wage Gap Across the U.S.

The difference in wages for men and women in America remains stark. Women make about 79% of what men make — this translates into a loss of about $10,000 each year. This wage gap is an improvement from 2005, when the median annual income for women who worked full time was 76.6% of a man’s, and the yearly loss in wages was $11,686.02 in 2013 dollars.

NerdWallet’s analysis

To discover where and why the reduction in the wage gap occurred, NerdWallet analyzed data on income, industry and education. Here’s what we found:

Tale of two cities. San Francisco and Oakland, California, had the fastest changes in each city’s wage gap — but in opposite directions. While workers in both cities earned nearly equal wages in 2005, Oakland women now out-earn men, but women in San Francisco make 85% of what men bring home.

Where women make more. Of the 22 U.S. cities where women’s incomes are higher than men’s, the income median in 19 places is below the nation’s median wages for all workers. In Inglewood, California, where women make 120.6% of what men do, median earnings are $25,749, which is $4,705 below the U.S. median.

Few places of equality. Only 71 of the 492 cities we examined had rising incomes for men and women. This may be due in part to the nature of many industries that attract larger numbers of one sex — such as engineering careers that draw more men or jobs, such as those in health care, that employ more women.

What makes a gender wage gap?

The gap in wages is complex because income inequality is linked to more than gender. Women and men work different hours, in different industries and they also earn bachelor’s degrees at different rates. All of these factors have shifted from 2005 to 2013, making it difficult to determine if cities are seeing a real reduction in inequality or if the changes are coming from differences in education and the jobs that follow — which influence the wage gap.

Job and education changes

Education and jobs are key factors. In many cities, such as Las Cruces, New Mexico, where the gender wage gap quickly closed from 2005 to 2013, the percentage of women who earned bachelor’s degrees increased. This educational shift mirrors changes nationwide, where women passed men: 18.6% of women 25 and older held a bachelor’s degree in 2013, while the rate for men was 18.3%. But in 2005, it was a different story: More men earned college degrees than women.

Similarly, we’ve seen stark changes in the job market in the past nine years. While new opportunities in education, health care and social services now employ 18% more people in 2013 than in 2005, jobs in construction and manufacturing — which traditionally employ more men — have decreased. These changes in the nation’s employment structure are even more dramatic at the local level. Orlando, Florida — a city that has seen the wage gap close quickly from 2005 to 2013 — saw a 79.6% increase in education, health care and social services jobs.

 

The Gender Wage Gap Across the U.S.

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Cities where the wage gap closed the fastest

The table below ranks U.S. cities by how quickly their gender wage gaps closed from 2005 to 2013. Some of the gap between men’s and women’s wages was reduced in part because of industry changes, other economic events or education.

Oakland, California, the top-ranked city, had the biggest change in the wage gap among all U.S. cities. The unusually large shift is linked to more-equal wages: In 2005, the wage gap was small and favored men, who made less than 1% more than women. But by 2013, the gap favored women who were out-earning men.

Rank City Change in gender wage gap
2005- 2013
Change in education, health care and social service jobs 2005-2013 Change in construction jobs 2005-2013 Change in manufacturing jobs 2005-2013 Women’s gains in education above men’s
1 Oakland, California 1,076% 5.6% -1.6% -11.8% no gain
2 Dallas, Texas 172% 34.8% -8.5% -0.3% 0.2%
3 Miramar, Florida 164% 30.8% -11.6% -24.5% 1.1%
4 Orlando, Florida 163% 79.6% -44.0% -10.4% no gain
5 Hollywood, Florida 150% 0.8% -0.9% -26.2% 0.9%
6 Elk Grove, California 129% 19.4% 0.3% 29.5% 2.7%
7 Birmingham, Alabama 114% 10.3% -49.2% 6.9% no gain
8 Escondido, California 113% 1.3% 3.4% -7.7% 3.4%
9 Wilmington, North Carolina 113% 50.4% -9.3% 38.7% 7.8%
10 Las Cruces, New Mexico 109% 17.1% -16.8% -0.6% 6.2%
11 Richmond, California 105% 4.9% 6.1% 10.9% 4.2%
12 Chattanooga, Tennessee 102% 25.7% -36.9% 1.4% no gain
13 Inglewood, California 93% 6.2% -45.8% -28.9% 0.5%
14 Fullerton, California 91% 4.5% -29.4% -4.9% 1.8%
15 Concord, California 90% 24.2% -29.2% 12.8% no gain
16 Detroit, Michigan 87% -24.9% -37.5% -32.0% 1.4%
17 Bridgeport, Connecticut 87% 25.0% -1.9% -36.3% no gain
18 San Bernardino, California 86% -6.1% -15.7% -0.3% 0.5%
19 Hartford, Connecticut 84% 29.6% -28.3% 27.5% 0.9%
20 Stockton, California 83% -1.2% 28.9% -28.7% no gain

 

Cities where women earn more than men

Women’s incomes in these 22 cities are higher than men’s wages.

Rank City Women’s income as a percentage of men’s 2013 median income for all workers
1 Inglewood, California 120.6% $25,749.00
2 Trenton, New Jersey 118.2% $21,824.00
3 Orlando, Florida 113.3% $27,556.00
4 Albany, New York 111.3% $29,814.00
5 Carson, California 109.3% $30,269.00
6 Hollywood, Florida 109.0% $29,865.00
7 Oakland, California 108.8% $31,033.00
8 Elk Grove, California 105.9% $39,780.00
9 Hayward, California 104.5% $30,226.00
10 Miramar, Florida 104.1% $28,404.00
11 Yakima, Washington 103.2% $19,753.00
12 Birmingham, Alabama 102.3% $22,112.00
13 Wilmington, North Carolina 102.2% $24,019.00
14 Escondido, California 101.5% $25,223.00
15 Las Cruces, New Mexico 101.1% $19,697.00
16 Deltona, Florida 100.9% $26,247.00
17 South Gate, California 100.8% $21,374.00
18 Dallas, Texas 100.5% $27,027.00
19 Richmond, California 100.3% $25,757.00
20 Silver Spring, Maryland 100.3% $40,764.00
21 Chattanooga, Tennessee 100.3% $28,269.64
22 West Palm Beach, Florida 100.2% $31,181.57

 

Cities where women’s wages increased the most since 2005

We found the cities where income increased the most for women from 2005 to 2013. Many of these cities saw a decrease in men’s wages in this time.

Rank City 2005 median income in 2013 dollars for male full-time,
year-round workers
2005 median income in 2013 dollars for female full-time, year-round workers 2013 median  income for male full-time,
year-round workers
2013 median income for female full-time, year-round workers Percentage change in income for male full-time, year-round workers Percent change in income for female full-time, year-round workers
1 Lawton, Oklahoma $41,496.49 $22,116.15 $35,778.00 $29,526.00 -14% 34%
2 Temecula, California $65,319.10 $32,641.70 $66,652.00 $43,246.00 2% 32%
3 Las Cruces, New Mexico $32,297.79 $28,267.26 $35,844.00 $36,255.00 11% 28%
4 New Rochelle, New York $60,864.93 $45,978.03 $67,337.00 $58,868.00 11% 28%
5 Apple Valley, California $61,145.77 $40,396.93 $52,162.00 $51,563.00 -15% 28%
6 Billings, Montana $44,457.21 $28,838.46 $43,200.00 $35,227.00 -3% 22%
7 Cary, North Carolina $81,957.68 $46,903.85 $79,335.00 $56,702.00 -3% 21%
8 Midland, Texas $48,892.34 $27,865.04 $63,226.00 $33,608.00 29% 21%
9 Cranston, Rhode Island $54,001.01 $41,983.20 $52,000.00 $50,438.00 -4% 20%
10 Santa Fe, New Mexico $49,975.24 $38,059.77 $51,773.00 $45,170.00 4% 19%
11 Passaic, New Jersey $24,742.48 $21,539.00 $27,258.00 $25,470.00 10% 18%
12 Miami Beach, Florida $38,253.74 $34,411.23 $45,321.00 $40,496.00 18% 18%
13 Orlando, Florida $39,955.44 $31,574.27 $32,589.00 $36,925.00 -18% 17%
14 Portland, Oregon $49,743.19 $40,648.02 $50,569.00 $47,398.00 2% 17%
15 Jersey City, New Jersey $46,689.65 $39,918.55 $51,948.00 $46,493.00 11% 16%
16 Highlands Ranch, Colorado $84,511.42 $52,734.85 $84,594.00 $61,232.00 0% 16%
17 Lakeland, Florida $37,584.96 $30,610.37 $40,979.00 $35,472.00 9% 16%
18 Clifton, New Jersey $60,137.84 $43,605.17 $55,658.00 $50,363.00 -7% 15%
19 Indio, California $34,571.88 $27,981.66 $37,609.00 $32,279.00 9% 15%
20 McAllen, Texas $42,574.63 $28,047.11 $40,346.00 $32,107.00 -5% 14%

 

Methodology

We used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in 2005 and 2013 to rank cities in three unique ways to examine the gender wage gap across the U.S. and how it changed from 2005 to 2013.

  1. Using data on the median income of full-time, year-round male and female workers, we found the rate of change for each city’s wage gap from 2005 to 2013. We then ranked cities by the rate of change in each to find where the wage gap was closing the fastest. To provide additional context, we included data from cities showing employment changes in the health care, education and social services, construction and manufacturing. We also included figures on education to illustrate how many women are earning bachelor’s degrees.
  2. We used 2013 data on the median income for full-time, year-round male and female workers to calculate women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s. We ranked cities and found 22 places where women’s wages were over 100% of men’s.
  3. Using data on the median income of full-time, year-round female workers we found the percentage change in wages from 2005 to 2013. We ranked cities to see where women had the largest gains in income. The data included the percentage change in men’s income over the same time for additional context.

Infographic by Brian Yee.

Image via iStock.