The 10 Worst-Paying Cities in America for Women

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low pay for women in these citiesMarch 8 was International Women's Day, a moment on the calendar dedicated to honoring women's successes, and also their struggles for equality. Nearly a century after American women won the universal right to vote, workplace equality in this country is still inconsistent, and equal pay continues to remain a distant goal.

Since the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the gap has been closing, albeit slowly. In 1963, women who worked full-time, year-round earned 58.9% of what men did in similar jobs with similar hours. Today, that figure is 77.4%, according to the Census Bureau.

No surprise, pay inequality is unevenly spread across America. In Los Angeles, women make nearly 90% of what men do. In Baton Rouge, the figure is closer to 63%. But don't assume it's a matter of rich areas vs. poor ones: In fact, it often has to do more with what industries dominate a city. Manufacturing, health care, finance and utilities, for example, all pay women significantly less, on average, than they pay men for the same work.

24/7 Wall St. has examined the data and identified the metropolitan areas where the wage gap is the widest. These are the worst-paying cities for women.

The Worst-Paying Cities for Women
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The 10 Worst-Paying Cities in America for Women

Women's pay as % of men's:72.6%
Median income for men: $51,124
Median income for women: $37,101

The city of Palm Bay's largest employers include several manufacturers of durable goods -- a sector notorious for being among the worst when it comes to paying women equal wages -- or hiring them. According to the Department of Labor, only 1.5% of operating engineers and other construction equipment operators are women, one of the lowest rates among all occupations.

Among those durable goods firms are semiconductor maker Intersil, electronics manufacturer MC Assembly, defense technology company DRS Technologies, and the Melbourne-based communications equipment company Harris.

Interesting note: The Palm Bay metropolitan area is completely out of step with the rest of Florida, which overall has the lowest rate of pay inequality in the country.

Photo of Melbourne, Fl by Wikipedia Commons

Women's pay as % of men's:72.6%
Median income for men: $53,608
Median income for women: $38,890

Two other sectors with some of the worst gender income gaps are also among this region's largest employers: the health services and social assistance industry -- in which women earn just 71.8% of what men do -- and the consumable goods sector, which pays women, on average, 73.8% of what men get for the same jobs.

Some of the largest employers in the area are Lehigh Valley Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital, chemical company Air Products & Chemicals and energy company PPL, according to the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors. The area is also home to a number of large food producers, which are included in the nondurable goods sector.

Photo of Allentown, PA by Wikipedia Commons

Women's pay as % of men's:72.4%
Median income for men: $44,908
Median income for women: $32,514

This metropolitan area is well-known for its forest products industry (part of the nondurable goods sector): It's home to Idaho Pacific Lumber Company, paper company Boise Cascade and Idaho Timber. But within the past couple of decades, Boise's technology sector has emerged as its largest industry, dominated by employers such as Hewlett-Packard and Micron Technology. Women, on average, earn less than 75% of what men do in the durable goods sector

By state, Idaho ranks 39th for earnings inequality by gender.

Photo of Boise City by Boise City Facebook

Women's pay as % of men's:72.4%
Median income for men: $45,273
Median income for women: $32,753

Chattanooga is home to a particularly large manufacturing industry. According to the city's website, the largest manufacturing employers in the metropolitan area are McKee Foods Corporation, Synthetic Industries, and home appliance company Roper.

Photo of Chattanooga by Chattanooga, TN Facebook

Women's pay as % of men's:72.1%
Median income for men: $50,101
Median income for women: $36,126

Colorado Springs' economy is built on health care, the military, tourism and the high-tech industry. The city's two largest employers are Memorial Health System and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, and among its other large employers are high-tech manufacturer Atmel, defense contractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, and communications company Verizon Business.

While Colorado Springs does poorly, Colorado overall does relatively well, ranking 13th among all states when it comes to equal pay.

Photo of Colorado Springs by Wikipedia Commons

Women's pay as % of men's:71.8%
Median income for men: $70,605
Median income for women: $50,714

This metropolitan area is one of the wealthiest areas in the country, with a median household income of $74,831. The national average is $50,046. Disparity, however, affects the wealthy just as much and women in the area earn just 71.8% of what men do, on average. The area's largest employment sector is health care, with Bridgeport Hospital and St. Vincent Medical Center the two largest employers. Although there are many more women than men in the health care and social assistance sector, men's salaries are significantly higher.

Bridgeport is also a major center for investment management companies. UBS employs 4,000 people in Stamford - the largest amount in the region. The finance sector is the absolute worst industry when it comes to income inequality between the genders.

Photo of Stamford by Wikipedia Commons

Women's pay as % of men's:70.6%
Median income for men: $46,648
Median income for women: $32,926

According to the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the largest industries in the area are health care, the military and manufacturing. The top employers in the city are the nuclear reservation Savannah River Site, the U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon, and the Medical College of Georgia.

Photo of Augusta by Augusta, GA Facebook

Women's pay as % of men's:70.0%
Median income for men: $49,739
Median income for women: $34,817

Among the Toledo metropolitan area's largest employers are ProMedica Health Services, Mercy Health Partners, and Chrysler Holdings, which built its Toledo Assembly Complex in the city. The city's largest industries are manufacturing, health services, and education.

Photo of Toleda by Toleda, OH Facebook

Women's pay as % of men's:64.4%
Median income for men: $51,766
Median income for women: $33,331

Government, education, and manufacturing are this metropolitan area's largest industries. Public administration and manufacturing are both highly imbalanced sectors when it comes to gender pay equality. The city of Ogden's largest employers are the Department of Treasury, Weber State University, automotive safety product manufacturer Autoliv, and McKay Dee Hospital. Utah, on the whole, performs poorly compared to other states with regards to equal pay, ranking third-worst in the country.

Photo of Ogden by Ogden, UT Facebook

Women's pay as % of men's:63.4%
Median income for men: $51,103
Median income for women: $32,385

On average, a woman working full-time doesn't even earn two thirds of what her male counterpart earns in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. According to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the city's largest employers are industrial construction company Turner Industries, the Louisiana State University System, engineering, procurement, and construction conglomerate Shaw Group, and industrial contractor Performance Contractors. Although LSU is an outlier, the other companies paint a picture of an industrial-leaning economy. The state of Louisiana also has the nation's greatest pay disparity overall, with women earning 67.2% of what men do.

Photo of Baton Rouge by Baton Rouge, LA Facebook


To identify the cities that pay women the least, 24/7 Wall St. compared the median incomes for the past 12 months of both men and women who worked full-time, year-round in the country's 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, based on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Information on the most unequal industries was calculated using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Labor, the Census Bureau, as well as Catalyst, the leading nonprofit organization for expanding women in business, and The Institute for Women's Policy Research.

-- By Ashley C. Allen, Charles B. Stockdale

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