March 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM ET
March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 was International Women’s Day. First observed in the U.S. on Feb. 28, 1909, the day has come to symbolize women's struggles for equal rights.
While it’s been nearly a century since women across the country won the right to vote and the right to work alongside men, equal pay continues to remain a distant goal.
Since the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the salaries women earn compared to those of men has improved, albeit slowly. In 1963, women who worked full-time, year-round earned 58.9 percent of what men did in similar jobs with similar hours. Today, women make 77.4 percent of a man’s salary, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Although pay inequality remains a problem across the country, the difference is not the same everywhere. In Los Angeles, the disparity is not nearly as bad, and women make nearly 90 percent of what men do. In Baton Rouge, La., the figure is closer to 63 percent. Based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau’s compensation data, 24/7 Wall St. calculated women’s compensation compared to that of men’s and identified the cities where the wage gap is the worst.
Unequal salary for women happens in rich and poor cities alike. In the Bridgeport, Conn., and San Jose, Calif., metropolitan areas, household median incomes are among the highest in the country. Despite this, women earn less than 74 percent of what men earn in these areas, putting both cities among the 15 worst out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. In other metropolitan areas, including Chattanooga, Tenn., and Augusta-Richmond County, Ga., the median income is well-below the national average. Women who work there also earn far less than men.
An analysis by 24/7 Wall St. reveals that what these areas do have in common is a concentration of industries notorious for their large pay gap between men an women. Last year, in a separate analysis, 24/7 Wall St. identified the industries that have the greatest pay disparity between the sexes. According to this research, in some industries, women make as little as two-thirds of what men do, despite performing the same job. Sectors such as manufacturing of durable and nondurable goods and health care are among the worst at paying women the same as men. Other industries that pay women the worst include finance and utilities.
To identify the cities that pay women the least, 24/7 Wall St. compared the median incomes for the past 12 months of both men and women who worked full-time, year-round in the country’s 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, based on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Information on the most unequal industries was calculated using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Labor, the Census Bureau, as well as Catalyst, the leading nonprofit organization for expanding women in business, and The Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
These are the worst-paying cities for women.
1. Baton Rouge, La.
On average, a full-time working woman doesn’t even earn two thirds of what her male counterpart earns in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. According to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the city’s largest employers are industrial construction company Turner Industries, the Louisiana State University System, engineering, procurement, and construction conglomerate Shaw Group and industrial contractor Performance Contractors. Although LSU is an outlier, the other companies paint a picture of an industrial-leaning economy, which operates primarily in construction and the manufacturing of durable goods -- two sectors with some of the worst gaps in pay between men and women. The state of Louisiana also has the greatest pay disparity in the country, with women earning 67.2 percent of what men do in the entire state.
2. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
The metropolitan statistical area of Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, is the second-worst in the country for gender pay inequality. Government, education, and manufacturing are the metropolitan area’s largest industries. Public administration and manufacturing are both highly imbalanced sectors when it comes to gender pay equality. The city of Ogden’s largest employers are the Department of Treasury, Weber State University, automotive safety product manufacturer Autoliv, and McKay Dee Hospital. Utah, on the whole, performs poorly compared to other states with regards to equal pay, ranking third-worst in the country.
3. Toledo, Ohio
Among the Toledo metropolitan area’s largest employers are ProMedica Health Services, Mercy Health Partners and Chrysler Holdings, which built its Toledo Assembly Complex in the city. The city’s largest industries are manufacturing, health services, and education. These industries, as a whole, fail to provide women pay equality. In the Toledo metropolitan area, women earn 70 percent of what men do.
4. Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C.
According to the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the largest industries in Augusta are health care, the military and manufacturing. The top employers in the city are the nuclear reservation Savannah River Site, the U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon, and the Medical College of Georgia. Manufacturing and health care both sway heavily towards paying men more than women.
5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area is one of the wealthiest areas in the country, with a median household income of $74,831. The national average is $50,046. Disparity, however, affects the wealthy just as much and women in the area earn just 71.8 percent of what men do, on average. The area’s largest employment sector is health care, with Bridgeport Hospital and St. Vincent Medical Center the two largest employers in the city of Bridgeport. Although there are many more women than men in the health care and social assistance sector, men’s salaries are significantly higher. Bridgeport is also a major center for investment management companies. UBS employs 4,000 people in Stamford -- the largest amount in the region. The finance sector is the absolute worst industry when it comes to income inequality between the genders.