Lynn Sladky/AP

Women workers in some U.S. states might not achieve wage equality until the 22nd century, new research suggests.

Women in Florida may be the first in the U.S. to achieve paycheck parity in 2038, while those in Wyoming may be among the last to close the wage gap, not getting there until 2153. According to new research released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), there will be 13 states where movement in the gender wage gap is so slow that a woman born in 2017 will not see equal pay during her working life.

Nationally, women averaged 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2015. Julie Anderson, a senior research associate with IWPR, looked at Census data between 1959 and 2015 to track the differences in earnings between women and men who are employed full-time, year-round. Based on historical trends, the research paper predicts how long it will take for women in each state to earn as much as their male counterparts. The answer isn’t very optimistic—projections reveal just how lethargic change has been so far and how significant the variations are across state lines.

Map showing the projected year the wage gap will close by state (IWPR)

If the current pace is to continue, the paper argues, it will take another 42 years until the country as a whole closes the wage gap in 2059. In four states—North Dakota, Louisiana, Utah, and Wyoming—pay equality won’t be achieved until the 22nd century.

It’s important to note that the situation is far worse for women of color. If current trends continue, Anderson warns that black women will have to wait until 2124, while Hispanic women will not see pay equity for another 231 years—until 2248.

Among the states that are the closest to ending wage inequality, the reasons aren’t uniform. For example, in Florida and Nevada, it’s not necessarily due to robust policies that bolster equal pay. Rather, it’s because men are setting a fairly low bar for earnings. “Women in states like Florida and Nevada earn somewhere in the middle when compared to other states, but men in those states earn near the bottom in relation to overall men’s earnings,” says Anderson.

Projection is based on the ratio of women's to men's earnings among full-time, year-round workers aged 16 and older. (IWPR)

When it comes to other high-ranking states, like California and Maryland, we can see how current efforts will pay off in the future. These states, Anderson says, are working hard to pass policies like paid sick leave and medical leave that play a major role in keeping women in the workforce. California and Maryland are predicted to close the wage gap in 2043.

The predominant industries and occupations within a state can also explain differences in earnings. States ranked at the bottom—Wyoming, Louisiana, and North Dakota—all have a very large share of men working energy and construction jobs. “These industries pay high wages, and employ very few women,” says Anderson. However, in states that employ a large number of government workers, such as Washington, D.C., there’s generally more transparency around things like promotion and hiring practices, which helps bridge the gap and boost equal pay, she adds.

Could focusing on state-level data help us better understand what is causing wage gaps? Anderson thinks so. It paints a complicated picture, she says, but mapping “also points out different entry points for states to focus their efforts on if they want to address the problem.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    The Last Daycares Standing

    In places where most child cares and schools have closed, in-home family daycares that remain open aren’t seeing the demand  — or the support — they expected.

  2. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  3. An African healthcare worker takes her time washing her hands due to a virus outbreak/.
    Coronavirus

    Why You Should Stop Joking That Black People Are Immune to Coronavirus

    There’s a fatal history behind the claim that African Americans are more resistant to diseases like Covid-19 or yellow fever.

  4. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  5. photo: An empty park in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City hit by a spike in coronavirus cases.
    Coronavirus

    Are Suburbs Safer From Coronavirus? Probably Not.

    Urban density does play a role in disease transmission. But rural areas and suburban sprawl aren’t necessarily safer spaces to ride out the Covid-19 crisis.

×