The 10 Best Cities for Women’s Pay

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This story originally appeared on SmartAsset.com.

Women’s earnings in the U.S. make up about 81% of men’s, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from the past several years. Though this figure has steadily grown over the course of decades, researchers predict the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could set back pay for women.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data unequivocally shows that the COVID-19 crisis has had a disproportionate impact on women’s participation in the labor force and unemployment, and many analysts theorize this will carry over to women’s earnings.

In this study, SmartAsset uncovered the best cities for women’s pay leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is SmartAsset’s third annual study on the best cities for women’s pay. Check out the 2020 version here.

We compared the 150 largest U.S. across four metrics: median earnings for women, growth in women’s earnings, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings and the change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings. Both metrics that examine changes over time consider the years 2017 and 2019.

For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section at the end.

1. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina
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Raleigh, North Carolina, ranks in the top quartile of cities for all four metrics in our study. It has the 32nd-highest median earnings for women (about $50,300), and women’s earnings make up the 10th-highest percentage of men’s earnings (almost 96%).

Between 2017 and 2019, Raleigh had the sixth-greatest increase in earnings for women (18.62%) and fourth-highest increase in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (13.05%).

2. Tacoma, WA

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Women in Tacoma, Washington, earn roughly $49,700 on average.

Though this figure does not fall in the top fifth of the study, Tacoma ranks within the top 15 cities for our other three metrics: Women’s earnings increased by more than 17% between 2017 and 2019, and women’s earnings make up about 93% of men’s earnings — almost 10% higher than in 2017.

3. Huntington Beach, CA

Huntington Beach California
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Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings increased the most in Huntington Beach, California, compared with any other city in our study.

Census Bureau data shows that the gender pay gap there closed by almost 16% between 2017 and 2019. Huntington Beach also has the 12th-highest median earnings for women, at $61,148.

4. Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, California
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Sacramento, California, has the smallest pay gap of all 150 cities in our study. In 2019, women’s earnings made up 99.05% of men’s earnings. This figure is 7.27% higher than it was 2017.

As a gross figure, median earnings for women in Sacramento are about $50,400, 31st-highest of the cities we considered.

5. Jersey City, NJ

Jersey City, New Jersey
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Earnings for women in Jersey City, New Jersey, grew by the second-highest rate of any city in the study.

Between 2017 and 2019, median women’s earnings increased by 22.82%. As a result of that growth, 2019 median earnings for women in Jersey City are the seventh-highest overall, at $62,530.

6. St. Petersburg, FL

St. Petersburg, Florida
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Women’s earnings in St. Petersburg, Florida, have grown substantially over the past couple of years. In 2017, the median salary for women was less than $40,400, and in 2019, it was greater than $45,700 –marking a two-year growth of 13.39%, 19th-highest in our study.

Relative to men, women in St. Petersburg earn about 8% less on average.

7. Honolulu, HI

Honolulu, Hawaii
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Honolulu, Hawaii, ranks in the top third of our study for all four metrics we considered. It has the 38th-highest median earnings for women (about $47,700) and ranks 45th-best for women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (88.51%).

Between 2017 and 2019, the capital of Hawaii had the 20th-greatest increase in women’s earnings (13.24%) and the 19th-largest change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (almost 7%).

8. Portland, OR

Hiking in Portland, Oregon
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From 2017 to 2019, median earnings for women in Portland, Oregon, increased by 18.40% — the third-highest increase of any city in our top 10 and seventh-largest overall.

With that increase, Portland has the 17th-highest 2019 median earnings for women, at more than $55,200.

9. Baltimore, MD

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Baltimore, Maryland, ranks in the top 20 cities of the study for two metrics: women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (92.31%) and growth in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (6.47%).

Census Bureau data from 2019 shows that the median salary for women in Baltimore is about $47,500, 39th-highest across all 150 cities in our study.

10. Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts
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Boston, Massachusetts, rounds out our list of the top cities for women’s pay. Women’s median salary in Boston is the 11th-highest in our study, at roughly $61,700.

Boston additionally ranks in the top 25 for women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings (91.88%) and the two-year growth in women’s earnings (12.23%).

Data and Methodology

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To find the best cities for women’s pay, SmartAsset looked at the 150 largest cities in the U.S. We compared those cities across four metrics:

  • Median earnings for women. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings. This is median earnings for women divided by median earnings for men. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 one-year American Community Survey.
  • Growth in women’s earnings. This is the change in median earnings for women from 2017 to 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 and 2019 one-year American Community Surveys.
  • Growth in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings. This is the difference between women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings in 2017 and 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 and 2019 one-year American Community Surveys.

In all cases, earnings figures are for full-time workers 16 years and older.

To determine our final list, we ranked each city in every metric, giving a full weighting to all metrics. We then found each city’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of zero.

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