The gender pay gap, or the percent difference between the median yearly earnings of males and females working full time, has long been an issue throughout the United States.

Improvements, albeit slowly, have been made, but the ultimate goal will always be shrinking the gender pay gap so that the earnings of men and women can stand flush side-by-side, leaving not even a sliver of space. 

A recent report published by personal finance company LendEDU included the analysis of gender pay gap data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The examined data included the yearly median earnings for full-time, year-round workers from each state and Washington, D.C., 664 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, and the country as a whole. 

For each of those locations, LendEDU examined the respective male and female earnings from both 2010 and 2018 to evaluate which places have seen the biggest improvements to the gender pay gap over nearly a full decade. 

Nationwide, the gender pay gap shrunk 2.14 percentage points; it was 22.46% in 2010 and improved to 20.31% in 2018. For reference, the median annual female earnings were $36,040 in 2010 and $52,318 in 2018. For males, those numbers were $46,478 and $52,318. 

In the state of Michigan, the gender pay gap in both 2010 and 2018 was larger than the national gap, but the improvement made over the same time frame was more significant. The Great Lakes State watched the gender pay gap go from 27.99% in 2010 to 23.21% in 2018, an improvement of 4.78 percentage points. 

In 2010, the median annual female earnings were $36,157 in Michigan and $40,647 in 2018. For males in Michigan, the median annual earnings were $50,208 in 2010 and $52,930 in 2018.

Michigan’s rate of change in the gender pay gap over nearly a decade was the 11th most significant improvement out of all 50 states and D.C. Wyoming’s gender pay gap decrease of 7.09 percentage points was the greatest, while D.C.’s increase of 1.52 percentage points placed it last on the list. 

Among metro and micro areas in Michigan, Big Rapids saw the biggest improvement as its gender pay gap shrunk 10.85 percentage points, which was the 23rd most significant improvement out of all 664 metro and micro areas analyzed across the country. Other Michigan areas that took great strides in reducing the gender pay gap were Muskegon (7.19 percentage points), Niles (6.86 percentage points), Mount Pleasant (6.65 percentage points), and Coldwater (6.28 percentage points). 

Like any great endeavor, bringing down the gender pay gap to a point where it is non-existent in Michigan and the U.S. as a whole will be challenging and will take time, but the end result will make it all worthwhile from an economic, societal and moral standpoint.

A joint effort between the government and private sector will be required and should perhaps include things like tax-based incentives that reward companies for doing their part in eliminating the gender pay gap.

Michael Brown is a research analyst with LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loans based in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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