The best- and worst-paying cities for women

Nationally, women earn just 78.8% of what men earn in comparable positions. That gap narrows and widens by location -- and a narrow gap doesn't always mean higher pay.

By 247 Wall St. Apr 8, 2013 11:44PM

Image: Businesswoman working at computer © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc, Blend Images, Getty ImagesBy Samuel Weigley, Michael B. Sauter, and Alexander E.M. Hess, 24/7 Wall St.


The wage gap between men and women will not close for 45 years, according to new research from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The group found that the wage gap will instead close in 2057, a year later than previously projected, due to slow progress in recent years toward improving equality.


April 9 is Equal Pay Day, a holiday established in 1996 to highlight the earnings discrepancy between men and women in the United States. Across the country, women in full-time, year-round jobs make just 78.8% of what men in comparable positions make, equating to more than $10,000 less a year.


Bur the gap can be larger or smaller depending on the metropolitan area. Women working full time and year-round in the Provo-Orem, Utah, metro area make just 61.6% of what men make. Conversely, women in the Los Angeles area make 91.4% of what men make.


Based on a review of the 100 most populous metropolitan areas, 24/7 Wall St. has taken a look at cities with the smallest wage gap between men and women, and the cities with the largest wage gap.


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Note first, though, that the fact women’s salaries are more in line with men’s in some areas does not necessarily mean that women in those areas are doing well relative to women elsewhere. In fact, the median income for women in eight of the 10 metropolitan areas was less than the national median income for women, which was $37,199.


Some industries have a much smaller gender pay gap than others. In food preparation, health care, and computers and mathematics, the median earnings of women in 2011 was at least 85% that of men’s. The areas with a higher concentration of these jobs tended to have a smaller pay gap.


24/7 Wall St. identified the metropolitan areas that have the smallest  and largest pay disparity between men and women by comparing the median earnings for the past 12 months of both men and women working full-time, year-round in the country’s 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas. We also reviewed employment composition in different sectors and the wages for both men and women in each. All data was from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2011, the most recent period available.


These are the best and worst-paying cities for women.


Best-paying cities for women


1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif.

·         Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 91.4%

·         Median income for men: $44,607

·         Median income for women: $40,777


Los Angeles was the only area out of the largest 100 metropolitan areas where women working full time were paid at least 90% of what men made. In office and administrative support positions, which comprised approximately 13.6% of the area workforce, women earned a median salary equal to 102.9% of that paid to men. Women in sales roles -- which employed roughly 11.2% of full-time workers in the Los Angeles area and 10% of workers across the United States -- received a median pay equal to 74% of that paid to similarly employed men. Across the nation, women in sales earned a median pay equal to just 65% of the median for men. Surprisingly, the entertainment sector appears to be hurting median salaries for women. While the median salary for entertainers is nearly $10,000 more than the national figure and twice as many area workers are employed in the field, women in entertainment make less in the L.A. area compared to men than they do nationally -- 85% versus 87%.


2. Fresno, Calif.

·         Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 89.1%

·         Median income for men: $40,164

·         Median income for women: $35,786


Women employed in education, training and library occupations earned 113.7% of what men earned, more than in any other large metropolitan area. Other professions where women outearned men included construction and extraction professions (145.3%), health technology (119.3%) and food preparation and serving (108.9%). But while women’s pay gap was lower than the country as a whole in many occupations, they still earned far below men in some. For instance, women in full-time legal occupations earned just 38.7% of what men in the same field earned.


3. North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla.

·         Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 87.5%

·         Median income for men: $40,417

·         Median income for women: $35,352


In the North Port metropolitan area, women made $7 for every $8 that men made. Women in the health-care technology field, which comprised a nation-high 2.8% of jobs in the North Port area, made 124.3% of what men made, compared to 83.8% for the country as a whole. In production occupations, women made 114.3% of men’s earnings, a higher percentage than any other metropolitan area. However, one area where North Port fared less well was health-care support occupations, which comprised a nation-high 4.2% of all jobs in the metro area. In this field, women made less than two-thirds of their male counterparts, compared to more than 85% across the country as a whole.


Click here to read the rest of 24/7 Wall St.'s 'The best-paying cities for women'


Worst-paying cities for women


1. Provo-Orem, Utah

·         Women’s pay as pct. of men’s: 61.6%

·         Median income for men: $51,692

·         Median income for women: $31,846


No metropolitan area had a greater pay disparity between men and women than Provo, where the median income in 2011 for men working full time was nearly $20,000 more than the median income for women. Women who worked in personal care and service occupations earned a median of just $18,590, or 44.3% of the earnings of their male counterparts. The pay gap was still vast even in higher-wage positions. Women working in business and financial operations earned just 57.8% of what men earned in 2011, one of the largest pay gaps in that field.


2. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah

·         Women’s pay as pct. of men’s: 65.2%

·         Median income for men: $52,184

·         Median income for women: $34,018


Ogden-Clearfield was one of just two metro areas where the median income for women was less than two-thirds of that of men's. The median income for women was less than half the median income of men in many occupations. In the legal profession, women working full-time earned just 26.3% of what men earned, the biggest pay discrepancy of all metro areas in that field. Women working full time in personal care and service occupations earned just 40.3% of the pay that men did, again the largest pay discrepancy of all metro areas. Other jobs where women’s median income was less than half that of men's include sales, health diagnosis and treatment, and transportation occupations.


3. Lancaster, Penn.

·         Women’s pay as pct. of men’s: 68.6%

·         Median income for men: $47,318

·         Median income for women: $32,446


Lancaster is an industrial town. About 11.6% of all full-time, year-round jobs in the region are in the manufacturing industry, the third-highest percentage of the top 100 largest metropolitan areas. Major manufacturers in the region include Armstrong World Industries and R.R. Donnelly & Sons. The median income for women in the manufacturing industry was just 64.3% that of men's in 2011. The gap was even worse in other fields. In the transportation industry, the median income of women was just 43% that of men's in 2011, one of the widest pay gaps among the largest metropolitan areas in that field.


Click here to read the rest of 24/7 Wall St.'s 'The worst-paying cities for women'


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