When it comes to the gender wage gap, statistics paint a disappointing picture. Women made 83 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, that figure hasn’t changed much in the past 15 years. Additionally, women ask for raises – just as frequently as men do, in fact – but are granted pay increases less often than men are, according to a CNBC and Momentive poll. That said, in some cities, the gender wage gap doesn’t look quite so stark, and it’s even starting to close in a few localities.
In this new study, SmartAsset set out to uncover the places where the gender wage gap is closing. We analyzed data for the 200 largest U.S. cities across four metrics on women’s earnings relative to men’s earnings and how it has changed over time. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.
Editors’ note: SmartAsset published this study in recognition of Equal Pay Day on March 14, 2023. This day represents how long women must work into the new year to earn what men earned in the previous year. We are aiming to raise awareness surrounding economic inequities and provide personal finance resources and information to all individuals.
- The gender wage gap has shrunk by more than 10 cents to the dollar in 16 cities. Over the four-year time period between 2017 and 2021, the wage gap in Hollywood, Florida, narrowed by 26.53% – the largest difference studywide. It was followed by Oceanside, California (23.22%), and Birmingham, Alabama (19.17%). Comparatively, the national average narrowed by a mere 0.69% over the same time period.
- These cities have the narrowest gender wage gaps. Women’s earnings in two California cities – Oceanside and Oxnard – as well as Dallas, Texas, are nearly equal to men’s earnings, with less than a 1% difference between the two. In Oceanside, this equates to a $26 difference annually. But it is a larger difference in Oxnard ($417). In Dallas, the difference is $192.
- Women earn more than men in three cities. Among the places is our No. 1 ranking city, Hollywood, Florida, where women earn roughly $2,155 more than men annually. The other two cities are Oakland, California, and Springfield, Massachusetts, where women earn $1,922 and $969 more than men, respectively. While these cities show less inequality, there is still a lot of opportunity for improvement in other cities across the U.S.
- No Midwestern or Northeastern cities made the top 10. In fact, there’s no sign of either until Worcester, Massachusetts (No. 15), and St. Paul, Minnesota (No. 22). Southern cities have the largest presence in the top 10 with seven areas making the cut. Western cities in California and Nevada round out the rest of the list.
- In the 10 largest U.S. cities, the gender wage gap has widened. The largest decrease occurred in San Antonio, Texas, where women went from earning 91 cents for every dollar earned by a man to 82 cents.
1. Hollywood, FL
Hollywood, Florida, is the only city in the top 10 where women's median earnings are higher than men's (4.76% higher, to be exact). And it ranks No. 1 for this data point study-wide. In this city of more than 152,000 residents, women earn roughly $47,500, which is up by 32.81% from 2017 to 2021. Additionally, the wage gap in Hollywood narrowed by just over 26% in the same time period.
2. Oceanside, CA
This California coastal city takes the No. 2 spot overall and specifically for how much the gender wage gap has narrowed over time. Between 2017 and 2021, the gender wage gap decreased by 23.22%, making the annual earnings of women and men almost equal - a mere $26 separates them. As of the most recent data, women in Oceanside earn just under a third more now than in 2017.
3. Birmingham, AL
In Birmingham, Alabama, women make roughly 96 cents for every dollar earned by men, ranking No. 13 for this wage gap. Birmingham excelled in narrowing that gap, however, between 2017 and 2021 when women’s earnings increased from roughly 76 cents per dollar. The median individual income for women in the city is just over $39,000, which is up 28.66% since 2017.
4. Denton, TX
Less than $1,000 separates the median individual earnings for women and men in Denton, Texas, which ranks No. 7 for that metric in our study. And between 2017 and 2021, the gender wage gap here has narrowed by more than 14% (ranking No. 5). Women in the city earn $50,250 (exceeding the national average by roughly $987) - an increase of 27.12% over the four-year time period beginning in 2017.
5. Spring Valley, NV
The town of Spring Valley, Nevada has the ninth-narrowest gender wage gap, where women's earnings are equal to roughly 97% of men’s earnings. In gross figures, this is a difference of $1,515 per year. From 2017 to 2021, women’s earnings have increased by 35.42% (up to $50,192), and the gender wage gap has narrowed by 9.20% (with women’s earnings going up from 88 cents per dollar).
6. Fort Lauderdale, FL
Like the No. 1 ranking city, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a place where the gender wage gap has narrowed significantly. The largest city in Broward county ranks No. 7 when comparing the wage gap change between 2017 and 2021 (13.31% difference). Plus, women currently earn roughly 91% of what men do. Additionally, women's earnings are up by nearly a third since 2017, bringing their median individual earnings to $50,179.
7. Killeen, TX
Women’s earnings in Killeen, Texas, make up 94.23% of men’s earnings. Annually, this equates to a difference of $2,440. Between 2017 and 2021, the gender wage gap in Killeen narrowed by 9.09% (up from 85.14% in the former year). Over the same time period, women’s earnings increased by 26.52% to $39,854.
8. Moreno Valley, CA
Roughly $3,185 separates the annual earnings for women and men in Moreno Valley, California (18th-highest). The gender wage gap narrowed by roughly 6.67% between 2017 and 2021 (37th-highest), and there have been strides to raise women’s earnings, as they have increased by more than 33% in those four years. As of the most recent data, the median annual earnings for women are $46,934 in this city.
9. Norfolk, VA
With a population of more than 235,000, Norfolk, Virginia, is the largest city in the top 10. While women earn roughly 89 cents to every dollar earned by men (ranking No. 50), the changes that have occurred over the four-year period between 2017 and 2021 are where Norfolk ranks highest. Specifically, women’s earnings have increased by 34.33% to $43,074 and went up by 10.60% relative to men’s earnings.
10. Fullerton, CA
Rounding out the top 10 is Fullerton, California, which logs the highest percentage change in women’s earnings between 2017 and 2021 (47.20%). Women make roughly 91 cents to every dollar earned by men (ranking No. 35). In gross figures, this equates to a difference of $6,314 annually. However, when comparing 2017 to 2021, this gender wage gap has narrowed by 10.55%.
Data and Methodology
To find where the gender wage gap is closing, SmartAsset analyzed data for the 200 largest U.S. cities. We compared cities across four metrics:
- Gender wage gap. This is women’s median individual earnings divided by men’s median individual earnings as a percentage. Both are for year-round, full-time workers.
- Gross difference in women’s and men’s earnings. This is the difference between annual women’s and men’s earnings.
- Four-year difference in the gender wage gap. This is the difference in the gender wage gap over the four years between 2017 and 2021.
- Four-year change in women’s earnings. This is the percentage change in women’s median individual income over the four years between 2017 and 2021.
Data for all metrics comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
We ranked each place across all metrics, giving an equal weighting to all but one metric: four-year difference in the gender wage gap, which was double-weighted. We then found each place’s average ranking. The place with the best average ranking places first in our study while the place with the lowest average ranking places last.
Tips for Maximizing Your Paycheck
- While income inequality is a larger, systemic issue, managing your budget can help on a smaller, more personal scale. Our paycheck calculator can help you calculate the difference in your take-home pay and our budget calculator can give you a clear picture of your current spending. Visualize the next six months and learn where cutting back on excess expenses can maximize your savings.
- Keep your retirement plans on track. On average, women live nearly six years longer than men while typically earning less. Learn about the different retirement accounts that exist to help you make an informed decision on which option suits your needs best and can make the most of your money. Use our retirement calculator to visualize your progress over future years.
- Work with a finance professional. A financial advisor can help you make the most of your money. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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