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2012 State by State Wage Gap Rankings: Fair Pay Still a Long Way Off in Most States

Today, the Census Bureau released data from the American Community Survey, a survey that provides median earnings for men and women by state. Based on that data, NWLC has calculated the wage gap for each state. Some of our key findings:

  • In 2012, Wyoming again had the largest wage gap, with women working full time, year round typically making just 63.8 percent of what their male counterparts made.
  • Both Louisiana (66.9 percent) and West Virginia (69.9 percent) also had wage gaps of 30 cents or more. The gap in Wyoming amounts to $18,780 annually — equivalent to more than half of the typical woman's earnings in Wyoming in 2012.
  • In 2012, the District of Columbia once again had the smallest wage gap women working full time, year round in the nation’s capital, were typically paid 90.1 percent of what their male counterparts were paid. 
  • Following D.C. were Maryland and Nevada, both at 85.3 percent.
  • Even in these states with smaller wage gaps, the difference in earnings was substantial. For example, while D.C. had the smallest wage gap of all the states, this gap in earnings still amounted to the typical woman earning $6,638 less in 2012.

Between 2011 and 2012 the gender wage gap narrowed in 27 states, but only 13 of those states saw their wage gaps shrink by more than a penny. Twenty-four states saw their wage gaps increase, 16 of them by more than a penny.

This news comes on the heels of data released by the Census Bureau this week that showed no improvement in the wage gap at the national level. Women working full time, year round in 2012 were still typically paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. This gap hasn’t changed in a decade and it's even worse for women of color, at 64 cents for black women and 54 cents for Hispanic women.

It's shocking that legislators aren't hurrying to do more. Gaps in nearly all states were 15 percent or more and the worst states still lag decades behind the progress we've made nationally. We can do better. We need to put in place laws and policies to help stamp out pay discrimination; raise the minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage to lift up the wages of women in the lowest-paying jobs; create pathways to higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs for women; end the workplace policies and practices that disadvantage women with caregiving responsibilities; and make high-quality, affordable child care readily available.

In all of the numbers we've been crunching at NWLC, one thing remains clear. Whether you're a woman in Wyoming, Louisiana, Maryland, or D.C. — the wage gap is thriving and it’s past time to take action. Working women and their families simply can't afford to wait.

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