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best cities for women's payAccording to data from advocacy groups like Equal Pay Today as well as government institutions such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women earn only around 80 cents for every dollar that men do. And that’s not including further disparity when considering race and ethnicity. Not only does this hinder women’s ability to further their careers and cover immediate expenses such as food or housing, but it also adversely affects their ability to save adequately for their retirement as well. There are some cities, though, where women’s pay is better than others, and SmartAsset crunched the numbers to figure out where those are.

To find the best cities for women’s pay, SmartAsset looked at data for 150 cities across the following four metrics: median earnings for women, growth in women’s earnings, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s and the change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s. 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 below.

This is SmartAsset’s second study on the best cities for women’s pay. Read the 2019 version here.

Key Findings

  • Women earn $42,736 on average. The average 2018 median earnings for women across the 150 largest cities in the U.S. were $42,736. Only one city in our top 10 – Spring Valley, Nevada – had median earnings that were less than that amount. For context, the average 2018 median earnings for women across the top 10 cities in our study were about $12,600 more than the study-wide average, at $55,339.
  • Western cities are strong at the top. Six of the top 10 cities in our study are in Western states: Chandler, Arizona; Spring Valley, Nevada; Tempe, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; Oakland, California and Modesto, California. All six of these cities rank within the top third of the study for growth in women’s earnings from 2016 to 2018 and within the top half of the study for 2018 median earnings for women.
  • Pay equity has room to improve. According to 2018 Census Bureau data, women’s earnings in were equal to or exceeded men’s in only four of the 150 largest cities in the country: Yonkers, New York (No. 1); Spring Valley, Nevada (No. 3); Tempe, Arizona (No. 4) and Aurora, Colorado (tied for No. 30).

1. Yonkers, NY

Yonkers, New York ranks in the top three of the study for three metrics: growth in women’s earnings, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s and change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s. The city had the second-highest growth in women’s median earnings between 2016 and 2018, at 20%. Data from 2018 shows that women in Yonkers earn 101.42% of what men do, the highest percentage in the study for this metric. Yonkers also ranks second overall for the change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s from 2016 to 2018, a jump of 20%. Finally, Yonkers ranks 16th overall for its relatively high median earnings, at $55,487.

2. Chandler, AZ

Chandler, Arizona had the fifth-highest growth in women’s earnings between 2016 and 2018, a jump of 18.65%. It also had the sixth-highest increase in women’s pay as a percentage of men’s pay, an uptick of 12.72%. Of the 150 total cities for which we looked at data, Chandler ranks in the top quarter, at 39th-highest, for the metric of women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s, at 88.68%.

3. Spring Valley, NV

Spring Valley, Nevada ranks in the top 10 of our study for three metrics: growth in women’s earnings from 2016 to 2018, 2018 women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s and the change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s from 2016 to 2018. Women’s earnings in the city increased by approximately 17% from 2016 to 2018, the eighth-highest rate for this metric. According to 2018 data, women there earn 100.98% of what men in the city do, the second-highest percentage for this metric overall. From 2016 to 2018, Spring Valley women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s increased by almost 22%, which is the highest amount for this metric.

4. Tempe, AZ

Women in Tempe, Arizona earned 100.50% as much as men in 2018, the third-highest amount for this metric in the study. Tempe also finished in the top 20 for growth in women’s earnings, with a 12.47% increase between 2016 and 2018. Women exploring employment opportunities may do well to explore the fastest-growing jobs for women in the U.S.

5. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, Minnesota cracked the top 20 for two metrics and the top 15 for one. It had the 20th-highest women’s earnings for 2018, at $53,047. That was an increase of 12.02% since 2016, also the 20th-highest uptick in the study. In 2018, women in Minneapolis earned 95.14% as much as men there, the 11th-best percentage for this metric in the study.

6. Seattle, WA

Seattle, Washington had the sixth-highest 2018 median earnings for women in the study, at $67,144. It also ranked 11th overall for the metric of growth in women’s earnings, increasing by 14.92% from 2016 to 2018. Women who want to secure higher pay by earning promotions should examine the industries where they are most likely to break the glass ceiling. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area ranked No. 3 on places where women are most likely to break the glass ceiling and earn management positions.

7. Oakland, CA

Oakland, California places in the bottom third of the study for change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s, with a decrease of nearly three percentage points between 2016 and 2018. However, the city finished in the top 10 of the study for both 2018 median earnings for women, at $61,865, and growth in women’s earnings from 2016 to 2018, at 17.41%.

8. Modesto, CA

Modesto, California had the 17th-highest increase in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings between 2016 and 2018, a jump of 5.83%. Its second-best metric is women’s median earnings, for which it finished 40th overall at $45,322.

9. Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts had the 12th-highest median earnings for women in 2018, at $57,466. It also finished in 17th overall in terms of women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s that year, at 92.54%. Boston ranks within the top 40 of all 150 cities in the study for change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s, which increased by about 3% from 2016 to 2018.

10. Washington, DC

Washington, D.C. ranks fourth overall for median earnings for women, at $71,050. It doesn’t rank in the top 40 for any other metric, but it does finish at 41st out of 150 for growth in women’s earnings, a 9.21% increase between 2016 and 2018.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities for women’s pay, SmartAsset analyzed data for the 150 largest cities across the following four metrics, with earnings metrics calculated for women 16 years or older who were employed in full-time positions:

  • Median earnings for women in 2018.
  • Growth in women’s earnings between 2016 and 2018.
  • Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s in 2018.
  • Growth in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s between 2016 and 2018.

All data comes from the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Surveys for 2016 and 2018.

First we ranked each city in every metric. Then we found each city’s average ranking, with each metric receiving equal weight, and used this average ranking to determine the final score. The city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100 and the city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Tips for Managing Your Money

  • Ask for a raise. There has been a rising trend of employers giving promotions without a pay raise, according to a recent survey of 300 employers by the staffing firm OfficeTeam. If you are accepting a promotion and taking on more responsibility, be sure you are asking to be compensated fairly. One of the best ways to do this is to see what other people in your occupation are making. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes annual employment statistics that show the average hourly and annual wage by occupation.
  • Take a granular glance at your finances. Want to see how your paycheck will look each week? SmartAsset’s paycheck calculator can give you a good idea.
  • Don’t forget about taxes. Higher earnings can bring higher income taxes. Use SmartAsset’s free income tax calculator to see what your bill to Uncle Sam will look like.
  • Get the help of a professional. No matter what your income is, a financial advisor can help you make the most of it. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/FG Trade

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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