These states are working to narrow gender pay gap

- Lyle Daly The Motley Fool

Despite improvemen­ts over the last 40 years, women still earn substantia­lly less than men. It’s an issue that every state has in common – all of them have a pay disparity between men and women.

But the severity of the issue varies by state. When you compare the gender pay gap statistics in each state, there’s a difference of more than 20 percentage points between those at the top and bottom of the list.

1. Delaware

Women’s median salary: 79.35% of men’s

The state has worked hard to eliminate the gender pay gap, most notably through a 2017 bill that banned employers from requesting previous salary informatio­n from prospectiv­e employees.

The state also has made secrecy about wages illegal, meaning employers can’t disallow employees discussing their wages. This pay transparen­cy lets employees know if they’re being paid more or less for the same job as a coworker. That makes it easier to spot biases.

2. Florida

Women’s median salary: 79.21% of men’s

Although Florida has the secondlowe­st pay gap, some of the reasons behind this aren’t positive changes.

Wages in Florida have been declining for a decade, but men’s median wages have decreased more than women’s. A smaller wage gap isn’t beneficial if it’s because everyone is making less money.

To the state’s credit, it had a 6.3% increase in women working in profession­al and managerial positions from 2004– 15. However, with a women’s labor force participat­ion rate of 53.1%, Florida ranks 42nd in the United States.

3. Arizona

Women’s median salary: 78.13% of men’s

In Arizona, more women are taking on profession­al and managerial positions.

Education levels have also risen, with 29% of women in Arizona age 25 or older having at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2018. That may seem low, but it’s seven percentage points higher than it was in 2000. Although college can be expensive, it’s also one of the best ways to increase your earning potential and be successful financiall­y.

Despite that good news, Arizona also has one of the same problems as Florida – a low women’s labor force participat­ion rate of just 53.9%.

4. Maryland

Women’s median salary: 78.04% of men’s

Like Delaware, Maryland recently enhanced its laws on equal pay. In 2016, it passed the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which improved the protection­s offered by Maryland’s previous income equality law.

The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act banned wage secrecy, making Maryland another state where employees are free to share salary informatio­n without worrying about repercussi­ons at work. It also prohibits what’s known as steering, a practice where employers provide less favorable employment opportunit­ies based on an employee’s sex or gender identity.

5. Vermont

Women’s median salary: 77.58% of men’s

Vermont is notable in that it has both the fifth-smallest gender pay gap and the sixth-highest women’s labor force participat­ion rate.

Women in Vermont tend to have higher-than-average levels of education, with 38.4% of those 25 or older having at least a bachelor’s degree. The state is also known for being progressiv­e – in 2013, it had the second-highest percentage of women in its legislatur­e at 40.6%.

Honorable mentions

There were two areas of the United States that had smaller gender pay gaps than any states:

❚ Washington, D.C. (88.69%)

❚ Puerto Rico (101.42%)

You read that right – Puerto Rico is the one part of the United States where women have higher median salaries than men. This is in part due to their level of education. In Puerto Rico, 29% of women ages 25 or older had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with only 20% of Puerto Rican men.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independen­tly of USA TODAY.

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