The Gender Pay Gap is Shockingly Dramatic Among the Richest
Almost everybody now agrees that women make less money than men. Things get heated, however, when it comes to figuring out why the gap exists and what policymakers should do about it. Since there’s been so much discussion about inequality recently, we decided to investigate the gender pay gap among the highest income earners, focusing exclusively on the top 2%. We found that the gender pay gap varies dramatically among this group, and it all depends on where you live. So we created a new viz to understand this issue in all of its complexity.
Mapping the gender pay gap across the country is no easy task. Our map shows how much money women make as a percentage of men’s wages. The lower the percentage, the smaller the wage gap; the higher the percentage, the greater the gap. For example, in Texas, women make 65.41% less than men, but in Wisconsin they make 38.39% less. We color-coded the percentages in four groups—the darker the shade of red, the worse the gap is.
We got our numbers from the United States Joint Economic Committee, a bipartisan group of US Senators who study this sort of thing. You can find their detailed report here. We understand this can be a provocative topic, so we turned to the least controversial source for our numbers.
Clearly, the pay gap is enormous everywhere you look. There isn’t a single place in the country where it doesn’t exist. The best state for pay equality is Alaska, but even there, women make 25% less than men. To be clear, that’s where the gap is smallest. In Wyoming, at the opposite end of the spectrum—where the gap is the widest—women make 71.76% less than men.
Why does this seem so insane? For people earning an average income, the gender pay gap is typically around 20%. For the ultra-rich, however, women make 60-71.76% less than men in a whopping 37 different states. And that’s in every part of the country. The only exception (which proves the rule) is a small group of states in the Upper Midwest. And even there, we see rates far higher than average.
Remember, our map only compares women with men who live in the same state. Wages are closer in Alaska than New York (25% compared to 67%), but a woman in New York makes a heck of a lot more than her Alaskan counterpart ($50,000 more, to be exact).
The 10 Worst Places for the Gender Pay Gap in the U.S Among the Top 2% of Earners
1. Wyoming (-$305,000, 71.76%)
2. Nebraska (-$264,000, 68.75%)
3. Oklahoma (-$255,000, 68.00%)
4. Connecticut (-$444,000, 67.48%)
5. New York (-$413,000, 67.37%)
6. Idaho (-$210,000, 66.46%)
7. Missouri (-$257,000, 66.41%)
8. Illinois (-$335,000, 66.34%)
9. Ohio (-$257,000, 66.56%)
10. Texas (-$295,000, 65.41%)
What can we learn from all this? Many different issues determine pay equality, even more so when you look at just the top 2% of wage earners. Like everything else, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the details. Just because someone is making a lot more money than they used to, doesn’t mean that the pay gap has gone away. In fact, it gets worse the richer you are.
Data: Table 1.1