A report released today by the Institute for Women's Policy Research reveals that in nearly half of all US states, women's economic status has either worsened or remained unchanged in the last decade.
If progress continues at the current rate, the average gap between US women's and men's wages will not close until 2058.
The Status of Women in the States: 2015 Employment and Earnings used data from US government and other sources to measure working women's economic status in each state, including the District of Columbia (which ranks as the best place for women's employment and earnings).
TK Logan, professor in the University of Kentucky Department of Behavioral Science and the Center on Drug & Alcohol Research, who serves on the national advisory committee of the project, says, "The Institute for Women's Policy Research is working on reports on the status of women in several areas including political participation, social and economic autonomy, health and well-being, work-family balance, and violence and safety."
"The Employment and Earnings report is the first in the data series to be released. States were ranked based on performance in four areas including median annual earning for women who work full time, gender earnings ratio for full-time workers, women's labour force participation, and the per cent of employed women who work in managerial or professional occupations."
The report also notes discrepancies among women of different ages, races / ethnicities, and educational levels.
Women over 65 make just 72.5 cents for every dollar a man makes (compared with 78 cents overall for women) and Hispanic women's median annual income earnings are the lowest at $28,000 (compared to $38,000 for women overall).
At all but one educational level, women earn the same or less than men who have lower educational attainment. For example, a woman with a bachelor's degree has the same annual earnings as a man with only an associate's degree.
Women in southern states, including Kentucky, are worse off than women in other states. Six of the bottom 10 states for women's employment and earnings are in the south.
Logan pointed out that while women still make less than men, there have been some improvements, especially for women ages 16-35.
"Some states have begun to tackle this issue with passing statutes to address the gender wage gap," said Logan. "When women earn more, it is good for children, families, communities and businesses."
The Institute for Women's Policy Research has published reports on women's earning statuses since 1996 that have been used to highlight women's progress and the obstacles they continue to face.
The reports aim to educate the public on such issues, and encourage policy and programmatic changes to improve opportunities for women.