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Missouri Women Earn 75% of Men

401(K) 2013

For more than 100 years, women have been fighting to end the pay gap between men and women in the workplace. Women still have a long way to, according to a recent study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. In Missouri, women earn 75% of men in the workplace and overall scored a D+ in the United States for women’s pay rate.

Missouri had the biggest decline in the United States for women’s pay rate. It moved from an overall ranking of 19 from 2006 to a ranking of 38 in 2014.

The study was composed of four indicators: women’s labor force participation, median annual earnings of full time working women, gender earnings ratio between men and women who work full time and percentage of employed women who work in professional or managerial occupations.

Findings showed that states in the Northeast tend to rank the highest, with Washington, D.C. ranking first. More than half of the states with the lowest scores were southern states.

“In general, the states that do the best tend to have economies where there is a lot of high level white collar and/or health care work and where education and public investment education tends to be strong,” Cynthia Hess, study director of IWPR said.

Hess said that the study did not specifically analyze why states moved up or down the ranking but the data showed that there are some significant differences in Missouri’s working women now compared to 2006.

“There’s a smaller share of women in the labor force in Missouri now than there was back when we did the last analysis in 2006,” Hess said. “There’s a slightly larger gender wage gap now than there was in 2006. The difference in median annual earnings for women who work full time year round in Missouri and their earnings in the nation as a whole are considerably larger now than they were in 2006. There’s a $5,000 difference today and $1,000 difference back in 2006.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in the United States earned a median weekly salary of $691 compared to the men’s weekly median salary of $854 in 2012. In Missouri, women earned a median weekly salary of $660 compared to the men’s median weekly salary of $841.

Contributing factors for lower pay rates for Missouri and rural states could be the lack of transportation available in order for women to get to work. Other factors include sex discrimination, occupation segregation and a major lack of available child care.

“In some European countries there is paid paternity and maternity leave for both parents and it’s not just six weeks and it’s not unpaid,” Rebecca Summary, Southeast Missouri State University’s department chair of economics and finance said. “We do have the Family Leave Act but many people can’t take advantage of that because they can’t afford not to be paid.”

Though the percentage of women and men in the United States with college degrees is equally about 29.2 percent, Hess said climbing up the educational ladder is especially important for women.

“Even though women earn more with each step up the education ladder, they still earn less than men who have the same educational qualifications and sometimes less than men who have lesser educational qualifications,” Hess said.

There are laws in place that state that women and men who are working the same job, with the same qualifications are required to receive the same pay rate. According to Summary, women and men and concentrated in different fields, which could explain the large wage gap.

“Women are not as likely to progress up the ladder into more responsibility,” Summary said.

According to another study by the IWPR, working women today will not see an end to the gender wage gap. It is projected that the gap will close in 2058, 44 years from now.


Jen Gradl was a student reporter at KRCU in 2014.