Persistent earnings inequality for working women translates into lower lifetime pay for women, less income for families, and higher rates of poverty across the United States. In each state in the country, women experience lower earnings and higher poverty rates than men. The economic impact of this persistent pay inequality is far-reaching: if women in the United States received equal pay with comparable men, poverty for working women would be reduced by half and the U.S. economy would have added $512.6 billion in wage and salary income (equivalent to 2.8 percent of 2016 GDP) to its economy. This fact sheet presents state-level data on the impact equal pay would have on poverty and each state’s economy as well as the families living in them.
Equal Pay Would Reduce Poverty for Working Women in Each State
Closing the gender wage gap would lower the poverty rates among women in every U.S. state and help many women and families achieve economic security. In the United States as a whole, if working women aged 18 and older were paid the same as comparable men—men who are of the same age, have the same level of education, work the same number of hours, and have the same urban/rural status—the poverty rate among all working women would fall by slightly more than half, from 8.0 to 3.8 percent (Figure 1 and Table 1).
• If working women were paid the same as comparable men, the poverty rate among all working women would fall by more than half in 36 states (Table 1).
• Massachusetts would see the greatest impact on poverty reduction, with equal pay cutting poverty by 68.7 percent among working women. Vermont (61.7 percent), Virginia (60.7 percent), Louisiana (60.0 percent), and Delaware (59.4 percent) would also see among the largest impacts of equal pay on reducing poverty (Table 1).
• Equal pay would also cut poverty significantly in states with higher than average poverty rates among working women. Louisiana’s poverty rate among working women would decline to 5.2 percent from the national high of 13.0 percent, Kentucky’s would decline to 6.0 percent from 12.9 percent, and New Mexico’s would decline to 5.0 percent from 11.2 percent (Figure 1).