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These Are the U.S. States Where the Gender Pay Gap Is Widest

In some states, the average man makes $15,000 more than the average woman.


Today is this year’s Equal Pay Day, which represents the amount of extra time the average woman would have to work full time -- 100 days -- to make the same amount of money the average man made in the previous calendar year.

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While this day is meant to raise awareness about the discrepancy between men and women’s pay in the aggregate, some women would have to work even longer into 2018 to reach the same annual compensation as their male counterparts. This is true for women of color, on average, and it’s also true for women who live in certain U.S. states.

Expert Market, a U.K.-based product comparison site, calculated the pay gap between genders in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., using wage data from the National Women’s Law Centre.

The state with the widest gender pay gap is Louisiana, where the average man earns $15,238 more than the average woman per year. Louisiana's pay gap is more than the combined pay gaps in California (ranks 49th at $5,928) and New York (ranks 50th at $5,766). The state with the narrowest pay gap is Florida, at $5,474.

Related: Women Won't Achieve Equal Representation in Business Unless Men Help Change the Status Quo

In other words, women in Louisiana earn 70 cents for every dollar men in Louisiana make, or they spend 10.5 hours of each 35-hour work week “working for free,” as Expert Market’s research team puts it.

While the researchers didn’t dig to find out why some states have wider pay gaps than others, they noted that in recent years, California and New York have banned employers from asking job applicants about their previous salaries. Doing so is thought to mitigate pay inequality: If a woman was underpaid at her last job, her pay at her next job should not be based off the previous figure.

“In order to fully understand why the gap is so significant in places like Louisiana and Utah, we'd need much more data about things like the representation of men and women in senior positions and specific pay brackets,” Expert Market researcher Jessica Laporte told Entrepreneur in an email.

Expert Market also noted that earlier this month, the U.K. government ordered thousands of companies to disclose information such as employee salaries and titles to suss out cases in which women are being underpaid within organizations.

Pay inequality is ultimately a systemic issue, and policy change is one way to address it. The World Economic Forum in fall 2016 forecasted that the gender pay gap won’t be closed worldwide until the year 2186. Factors such as literacy and education rates, health and survival rates, women's participation in government and more are correlated with pay gaps in different countries.

However, entrepreneurs and employees themselves have the power to make small changes to overcome pay discrepancies at the organizational or individual level.

Women can practice various negotiation tactics when asking for initial salaries and raises. Companies can be transparent about what certain positions pay so that candidates who underestimate their worth don’t settle for being underpaid. Organizations can offer flexible schedules to employees who are parents so they don’t have to choose between childcare and advancing in their careers. Women can also help other women by coaching them and making sure their contributions are heard and valued at work (women can ask other women to help them do this).

These are just a few of the steps anyone can take at the micro level to start to close the gender pay gap. In the meantime, here are the U.S. states ranked in order from largest gender pay gap to smallest, according to Expert Market.

1. Louisiana $15,238

2. Utah $15,077

3. Washington $13,808

4. South Dakota $13,382

5. Connecticut $13,229

6. West Virginia $12,801

7. Indiana $12,717

8. Montana $12,517

9. Oklahoma $12,055

10. Alabama $12,022

11. Wyoming $11,896

12. New Jersey $11,737

13. Iowa $11,594

14. Ohio $11,477

15. Massachusetts $11,202

16. Michigan $11,044

17. Virginia $11,019

18. Illinois $11,003

19. Wisconsin $10,959

20. Idaho $10,902

21. Kansas $10,800

22. Pennsylvanica $10,733

23. Nebraska $10,653

24. Oregon $10,483

25. Washington, D.C. $10,435

26. Mississippi $10,389

27. Maryland $10,074

28. Missouri $10,029

29. South Carolina $9,995

30. North Dakota $9,948

31. Rhode Island $9,859

32. Texas $9,775

33. Kentucky $9,262

34. Delaware $9,153

35. Minnesota $9,068

36. New Hampshire $9,031

37. Arkansas $8,914

38. Alaska $8,904

39. Nevada $8,645

40. Georgia $8,434

41. Arizona $8,420

42. North Carolina $8,193

43. Hawaii $8,149

44. Colorado $8,058

45. Tennessee $7,745

46. Maine $7,650

47. New Mexico $7,629

48. Vermont $6,718

49. California $5,928

50. New York $5,766

51. Florida $5,474


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