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Women Still Make Less Than Men, but Here’s Where the Smallest Gaps Are

Business people in silhouette in LA, California
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It takes the average woman an extra 535 hours of work to make as much as her male counterpart each year.

How’s that for a shocking statistic to start off your Equal Pay Day?

That means a woman works more than 10 extra hours a week to make up for the $10,299 difference in annual earnings, according to a Penny Hoarder analysis of the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Women earn about 79 cents for each dollar a man earns — and that’s a serious problem.

“Even one year out of college there’s still a wage gap,” said Deborah Vagins, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Research at the American Association of University Women (AAUW). “It’s pernicious.”

There are, however, some parts of the U.S. that are pennies away from closing the wage gap.

Here Are Cities Worthy of Some Celebration on Equal Pay Day

There are no major U.S. cities in which the average woman makes as much per year as a man, according to an analysis of median annual pay in metropolitan areas by The Penny Hoarder. Zero. Zip. Nada.

But because it’s Equal Pay Day, we set out to find the parts of the country that are somewhat close to pinching the wage gap shut.

When we looked at our list of 382 major U.S. metros, a few things stood out. Cities in California and Florida accounted for 68% of the 25 cities with the smallest gap between annual pay for women and men.  Of the bottom 25 cities, Texas and Louisiana accounted for a combined 40%.

Even though these 10 cities might be leading the way on pay equality, they still haven’t achieved full equity:

1. Napa, California

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $51,005

96.9¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

2. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $41,371

91.6¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

3. Durham, North Carolina

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $44,252

91.3¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

4. Fresno, California

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $37,041

90.3¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

5. Kahului, Hawaii

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $38,274

89.2¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

6. Los Angeles, California

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $41,829

89.1¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

7. Santa Rosa, California

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $47,137

88.3¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

8. Ocala, Florida

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $31,902

87.7¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

9. Fort Myers, Florida

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $35,418

87.2¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

10. Visalia, California

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $33,296

87.2¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

The worst cities for equal pay include Houma, Louisiana, in which women make about 54 cents for every male dollar, and Provo, Utah, where they make about 62 cents.

What Industries Are the Best For Women This Equal Pay Day?

Oceana employee Audie Huerta of Jupiter, Fla. prepares a latte for a customer. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

So we’ve looked at cities where women aren’t lagging as much in pay, but how about jobs or industries?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report last year highlighting occupations in which women make more than, or close to as much as, men in weekly earnings. Sewing machine operators, teaching assistants and counselors topped that list — but we wanted to take a broader look.

Construction and repair industries have a surprisingly small wage gap for women.

Here are the five economic sectors with the smallest pay gap, according to our Penny Hoarder analysis:

1. Community and Social Services

Women’s Median Annual Pay: $42,397

93.6¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

Jobs in This Industry:

  • Family therapists
  • Counselors
  • Social workers
  • Probation officers

2. Installation, Maintenance and Repair

Annual Pay: $41,061

90.4¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

Jobs in This Industry:

  • Mechanic
  • Telecom equipment installer
  • HVAC installer
  • Watch repairer

3. Office and Administrative Support

Annual Pay: $35,003

87.8¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

Jobs in This Industry:

  • Police dispatcher
  • Hotel desk clerk
  • Proofreader
  • Mail sorter

4. Construction and Extraction

Annual Pay: $35,417

87.1¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

Jobs in This Industry:

  • Marble setter
  • Solar panel installer
  • Plumber
  • Hazardous material removal worker

5. Food Preparation and Serving

Annual Pay: $20,525

86.8¢ for Each Man’s Dollar

Jobs in This Industry:

  • Bartender
  • Fast food cook
  • Host
  • Barista

Women fare the worst in legal jobs, where they make 52 cents for every dollar that a man earns.

Here’s What Women Can Do on Equal Pay Day to Help Smash the Wage Gap

As you can see, regardless of the city where you live or the industry in which you work, you likely make less than your male counterpart. But Equal Pay Day is the perfect opportunity for you to lay the groundwork for a more equitable workplace, said Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs.

“Just use it as a conversation opener,” she said.

Ask your manager or human resources department if the company plans to do anything special for Equal Pay Day. That will put issues about unequal pay between genders at the forefront of their thoughts this week, and might open an opportunity for you to ask for a raise.

Reynolds said that if you do ask for more money you need to have confidence and cite examples in which you’ve gone above and beyond in your work.  Avoid tying your request to personal reasons for a higher wage — like your landlord just raised your rent. Look back on your professional accomplishments — and, furthermore, start an ongoing list for future wins.

“We often devalue our own work and our own accomplishments,” Reynolds said.

Check out websites like Salary.com or PayScale, or job listing sites, to find the pay range for your position. If you’re on the low end of the spectrum, Equal Pay Day might be your chance to present that data to your employer as justification for a raise.

AAUW has partnered with five city governments and the state of Massachusetts to offer AAUW Work Smart, a free program designed to help women negotiate for a better job, raise or promotion. Vagins said the organization plans to roll out that program to more municipalities and hopes to train 10 million women by 2022.

Here’s a handy guide from AAUW on pay equity laws by state.

With the #MeToo movement sweeping through our culture, this might be the best year for you to start closing that wage gap.

“I think the broader conversation about women in society, the roles we play and the equality we’re given — or not given — can only help in these situations” Reynolds said. “It’s just at the forefront of more people’s minds.”

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

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