Study: West Virginia has country’s fifth-largest gender wage gap

April 4, 2019

Tuesday was “Equal Pay Day,” a day meant to bring attention and awareness to the gender wage gap in the United States.

In the U.S., women generally make about 80 percent of what men take home in wages. In West Virginia, the wage gap is even larger, with women working full time making about 74 percent of men’s wages, according to a new state-by-state analysis released by the National Partnership for Women & Families.

The analysis found that women employed full time, year-round in West Virginia are typically paid just 74 cents for every dollar paid to a man in West Virginia — a yearly pay difference of $12,347.

According to the study, this annual wage gap represents money West Virginia women could be spending on housing, child care or health insurance costs.

“If the wage gap were closed, on average, a working woman in West Virginia would be able to afford nearly 18 additional months of rent, nearly 20 additional months of child care, or more than nine additional months of premiums for employer-based health insurance,” the report said.

Working women in West Virginia are not alone in experiencing the effects of the wage gap.

The National Partnership’s study concludes that there is a gender-based wage gap in every single state and the District of Columbia. The cents-on-the-dollar gap is largest in Louisiana, followed closely by Utah, Indiana, Alabama and West Virginia — and smallest in California and the District of Columbia.

The study also analyzed the wage gap in each of West Virginia’s congressional districts. In Districts 1 and 2, women earn on average 75 percent less than men, while in District 3 women earn on average about 70 percent of what men are paid.

Nationally, the median annual pay for a woman who holds a fulltime, year-round job is $41,977, while the median annual pay for a man who holds a full-time, year-round job is $52,146. This means that, overall, women in the United States are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual gender wage gap of $10,169.

“The wage gap is truly a chasm that impedes women’s ability to support ourselves and our families, pursue and achieve our dreams, and save for the future,” said National Partnership President Debra Ness.

The nation’s persistent wage gap is especially harmful for women of color, the report said. The analysis finds that nationally, Latinas are typically paid 53 cents, American Indian women 58 cents, black women 61 cents, white, non-Hispanic women 77 cents, and Asian American women 85 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

The wage gap for mothers — who are breadwinners in half of families with children under 18 — is 71 cents compared to every dollar paid to fathers.

Ness says to erase the gender wage gap, lawmakers must also raise the federal minimum wage and eliminate the sub-minimum wage for workers who rely on tips, and workers with disabilities; pass legislation to end sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination; set national standards for paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and predictable schedules; and increase access to high-quality, reproductive health care.

Findings for each state from the National Partnership’s new wage gap analysis are available at NationalPartnership.org/Gap.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.