The Best & Worst Cities for Women’s Wage Equality

Here's where to live if you want equal pay for equal work.

Women continue to earn less than men across the board in the United States. In fact, except for women working in a few specific fields within specific communities, women still earn less than 80 cents for every dollar men make (and the wage gap only widens as women age). At the rate we’re going, women aren’t expected to achieve wage equality with men in this country until 2152 — another 135 years.

But some women’s earnings in some roles are equal or even surpassing those of their male coworkers (more on that in a minute), according to a recent analysis of U.S. Census data by Abodo, an apartment-locator website. Unfortunately, that’s not the case across the board. How much a woman makes compared to men doing the same job depends a lot on where she lives.

“For young millennials looking to launch their careers, or even for college students still planning their next move, being aware of the different factors influencing your future earnings is key, because even small discrepancies can have a huge impact on lifetime earnings,” said Sam Radbil, senior communications manager for Abodo. “For a woman pursuing a career in computers and math, for example, and assuming stable earnings, choosing to live in Milwaukee can mean earning $176,000 less than your male counterparts, while choosing Phoenix would mean $560,040 less over a 40-year career.”

Let’s start out looking at Abodo’s findings on the overall wage gap and the cities where it’s best and worst across industries. (You can check out the full report here.)

Nationally, the median income for women is $39,315, which is 78.9% of the national median income of $49,828 for men. Abodo looked at the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey five-year estimates for the median salaries of male and female full-time, year-round workers who were at least 16 years old and had earnings to find the greatest departure from that median. Abodo identified the 10 metropolitan areas with the largest and smallest wage gaps, as well as the five occupations with the largest and smallest wage gaps nationally.

First, the Cities With the Least Wage Disparity

1. Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Topping the chart for women wage earners across all occupational categories was Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where women earn an average of 92.6% of what their male counterparts do. It’s the only metro area where women’s overall median salaries across industries exceed 90% of men’s salaries, the study found.

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California
Women earn 89.5% what men earn.

3. Fresno, California
Women earn 88.8% of what men earn.

4. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Osmond Beach, Florida
Women earn 87.1% of what men earn.

5. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Nevada
Women earn 86.9% of what men earn.

6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach
Women earn 86.7% of what men earn.

7. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada
Women earn 86.0% of what men earn.

8. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
Women earn 86.0% of what men earn.

9. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
Women earn 85.5% of what men earn.

10. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California
Women earn 85.3% of what men earn.

On the flip side, the cities where women earn the smallest percentage median wage compared to men are led by Utah, where three of the top 10 cities are located. In fact, only one city located outside of Utah has a median wage for women that is less than 70% of what men earn.

The Cities With the Greatest Wage Disparity

1. Provo, Utah
Women earn 63.1% of what men earn.

2. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Women earn 68.1% of what men earn.

3. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
Women earn 68.9% of what men earn.

4. Wichita, Kansas
Women earn 72.1% of what men earn.

5. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pennsylvania
Women earn 73.1% of what men earn.

6. Salt Lake City
Women earn 73.4% of what men earn.

7. Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia
Women earn 73.4% of what men earn.

8. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Women earn 73.6% of what men earn.

9. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan
Women earn 73.6% of what men earn.

10. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
Women earn 74.4% of what men earn.

Wage Disparity by Field

Abodo found only two major fields where women earned more — community and social services (see the green chart below), and construction and extraction jobs (see the blue chart below. Even then, women earned more only in certain cities.

wage disparity

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As Radbil explains: “Construction and extraction is one of the rare fields in our study in which women occasionally out-earned their male counterparts — at least in a specific set of cities and positions,” Radbil said. “As laborers, managers and first-line supervisors, women’s wages still lag. But in certain roles, such as helpers for construction and extraction, or service unit operators, women are seemingly leaps and bounds ahead. However, this field has the lowest percentage of female workers — just 2.4%. With numbers so low, it’s much easier for a few high-earning outliers to bolster the numbers when it comes down to specific jobs and cities.

wage disparity

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“And the reverse is also true: Construction and extraction jobs have a wide spectrum for earnings, and also contains some of the lowest lows for female workers. For example, the city with the best construction earnings ratio is Memphis, Tennessee, with $1.21 on a man’s dollar, while the worst is Milwaukee, with just 63 cents, which is the second-lowest earning ratio for any occupation our study found. All in all, however, female construction and extraction workers still earn 88 cents to a man’s dollar, for the third-highest earning ratio.”

The Largest Wage Gap Goes To…

One employment category was found to have an especially large wage gap: the legal field, where women make only 51.8% as much as men. Part of the discrepancy stems from the widely variable salaries in the legal field. Judges earn much more than paralegals, for example. But it doesn’t explain why more men work in the higher earning jobs. It also can’t explain why female lawyers earn just 78.2% on the dollar.

If you aren’t being paid the same as your peers, regardless of their gender, or just aren’t being paid what you’re worth, you might want to consider asking for a raise. It can be tough, but these tips on how to ask for a raise can make it easier.

If that’s not an option for you but you need to find some way to improve your financial circumstances — whether it’s to qualify for a mortgage, get a better rate on your credit card or just make saving for the future easier — here are 50 ways to give your finances a fresh start.

Keep in mind, one of the most prudent financial moves you can make is to keep your credit in good standing. If you don’t know where your credit stands, or if you know you could improve your credit scores, checking your credit regularly is a good idea. You can get your two absolutely free credit scores right here on Credit.com.

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