Utah’s Gender Wage Gap Not Expected to Close Until 2102

According to a new report released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Utah ranks 39th in the United States, earning a D on women’s employment and earnings. 

The report, which uses government and other sources to rank and grade each state, finds that if  progress continues at the current rate, women in Utah will have to wait until 2102 to make as much as men. Overall, the best place for women’s employment and earnings in the United States is the District of Columbia, while the worst is West Virginia.

In Utah, women earn 70 percent of what men in the state earn. The report findings show that a typical working woman in the United States loses more than $530,000 over her lifetime due to the gender wage gap. The losses are greater for women with higher levels of education. By the time a full-time woman worker with a college education turns 59, IWPR’s researchers calculate that she will have lost almost $800,000 throughout her life.

“Although we are disappointed that Utah has ranked one of the lowest for women’s employment and earnings, we are not surprised, given other recent reports.  But we are optimistic that this rich trove of information will deepen many thoughtful conversations already underway throughout our state about women’s well-being and accelerate the pace of good change on behalf of women, their families and communities, and Utah as a whole,” said Anne Burkholder, CEO of the YWCA Utah.

On other indicators of women’s economic status, Utah ranks 29th for women’s labor force participation in the United States. Utah has 58.7 percent of women in the labor force and ranks 27th for women’s earnings, and 36th for the proportion of professional and managerial jobs, with 38 percent of such jobs held by women.

The report finds that women’s median annual earnings in the U.S. vary substantially by race and ethnicity, with African American women who are employed full time, year round, earning $33,555 per year, Hispanic women earning $28,410, and Native American women earning $32,000, while Asian women earn $45,000, and white women earn $40,586.  Immigrant women earn substantially less than nonimmigrant women.

In Utah women are over-represented in some jobs, and under-represented in others.  For example, 19.4 percent of Utah’s service workers are women, whereas only 5.2 percent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workers are women. Utah ranks last (51st) in the nation for the proportion of STEM jobs held by women.

The report also includes data on other topics such as low-wage workers, older women and millennials, and women in unions, and includes detailed breakdowns by race and ethnicity. Along with this report, IWPR launched an accompanying website, www.statusofwomendata.org, with access to this information and additional data for each state.

In 2014 the YWCA Utah released a research briefing entitled The Well-Being of Women in Utah: An Overview, in partnership with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.  IWPR’s new research project  supplements and extends this information, and strengthens the foundation for informed public policy advocacy on behalf of Utah women in key dimensions of their lives. 

This report on women’s employment and earnings in the United States is the first in a series of releases from IWPR’s Status of Women in the States: 2015 project. The report analyzes employment and earnings data and identifies the best and worst states for women to work, giving each state a rank and a grade based on a composite index first developed by IWPR in 1996. The report is also the first ever to calculate when the pay gap will close in each state.

Throughout the spring, IWPR will release additional reports from the Status of Women in the States: 2015 with state-level data on Poverty & Opportunity, Violence & Safety, Health & Well-Being, Reproductive Rights, Political Participation, and Work & Family. Data on Violence & Safety and Work & Family are new additions to the 2015 edition. Since the first Status of Women in the States, the reports have been used to increase community and private investment in programs and policies that improve outcomes for women throughout the United States. Visit www.statusofwomendata.org for more information about the Status of Women in the States project and upcoming releases.