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Where is the Gender Pay Gap Shrinking the Fastest?

We took a look at median earnings data, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, for men and women working full-time across the country, over a 10-year period, to determine where the gender pay gap is shrinking the fastest.

Multiple organizations, such as the Pew Research Center and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, have reported on the nuanced factors that influence the gender wage gap. For instance, differences in educational attainment, work experience, strength of professional network, occupation and industry have all been effectively argued to impact the discrepancies in income between men and women. Needless to say, this issue is complex and multifaceted, but regardless of the social forces at play, the data show that there is a clear gap between the median earnings of men and women in the workforce. Data also show that the gender pay gap can vary significantly depending on where you work. We decided to take a look at median earnings for men and women working full-time across the country over a 10-year period to determine where the gender pay gap is shrinking the fastest.

Key Takeaways

  • The Granite State, New Hampshire, places first for the fastest-shrinking pay gap, followed by Michigan and Nevada.
  • The pay gap is growing in seven states, with Utah accounting for the highest growth rate. Moreover, the gap is quickly widening in the U.S. capital—Washington D.C.—growing more than five times faster than in Utah.
  • Averaged across all states, women are earning roughly 78 cents for every dollar a man makes, and the national pay gap was estimated to be shrinking at a slow rate of $190 per year.

States Where the Pay Gap is Shrinking the Fastest

States Where the Pay Gap is Shrinking the Fastest

We looked at changes in the gender pay gap for every state over a 10-year period—between 2006 and 2016—and mapped out where the median pay gap was found to be shrinking the fastest. The heat map above showcases which states are closing the wage gap the fastest, with darker states being the ones with faster shrink rates. New Hampshire may not come out on top for as many rankings as some of the other states, but residents of the Granite State should be proud to know that their state is closing the gender pay gap the fastest, at an estimated rate of $512 per year. Michigan, Nevada, New York and Delaware follow, with estimated shrink rates of $505, $449, $408 and $404 per year, respectively. Unfortunately, seven states exhibited growing pay gaps, albeit not very large ones, with Utah having the highest growth rate at $130 per year. Louisiana and Oklahoma were the next worst in terms of growth, with pay gaps increasing by around $79 and $67 per year. You can find out how quickly, or slowly, the gender pay gap is shrinking in your state using the data table at the end of this article.

What Women Make For Every Dollar a Man Makes by State

What Women Make For Every Dollar a Man Makes by State

Aside from looking at changes over time in the median earnings gap between men and women, we also looked through current pay gaps to see which states are paying women the most as a percentage of male income. Nationwide, the data show that women earn roughly 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. In other words, women are paid 22% less than what men are paid on average. At the state level, the current highest earnings ratio for women can be found in New York, where women make roughly 87 cents for every dollar a man makes. California, Vermont and Maryland have the next three highest earnings ratios, as shown by the bar chart above. We also included Washington, D.C., for good measure and were able to show that although women earn 87 cents for every dollar a man earns there, the same as New York, the pay gap in D.C. is actually widening by a rapid rate of $719 per year. That’s more than five times higher than the growth rate in Utah.


We analyzed median earnings data from 2006 through 2016 provided by the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) to determine where the gender pay gap is shrinking the fastest. For this study, we only used earnings data for full-time workers who worked year-round and we adjusted all currency amounts to 2017 dollar amounts in order to account for inflation. Pay gap amounts were plotted over time for each state, and linear regression was used to estimate gap closure rates ($US per year). A full list of rankings can be found in the table below. Please note that negative rates represent shrinking pay gaps, while positive rates represent growing pay gaps.

StatePay Gap ($US)Earnings Ratio (%)Shrink Rate ($US per year)Rank
New Hampshire12,94077-512.061
New Jersey12,16180-269.6113
New Mexico7,87581-248.3920
New York7,17786-408.244
North Carolina8,10782-188.4325
North Dakota15,0767143.6447
Rhode Island9,19282-384.16
South Carolina9,05479-183.7927
South Dakota10,3217627.5144
Washington D.C.9,53687719.6851
West Virginia14,26769-97.6539
David Ascienzo

David Ascienzo, Ph.D., is a Data Scientist at ValuePenguin. He previously was a Doctoral Researcher in Physics at the City University of New York (CUNY). He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the CUNY Graduate Center.