Even in the Equality State, Women Still Get Paid Less

The Wyoming Women’s Foundation (WYWF), in partnership with the Equality State Policy Center (ESPC) and the Wyoming Council for Women (WCW), released a new report entitled The Wage Gap in Wyoming in 2022: How Gender, Race and Ethnicity Affect Pay Equity. University of Wyoming researchers, Chian Jones Ritten, PhD, Department of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and Anne Alexander, PhD, Department of Economics authored the report. The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center provided data assistance. 

The wage gap between men and women in Wyoming is $0.25. In other words, women make $0.75 for every $1.00 men make in Wyoming. According to the report, Wyoming’s wage gap remains the largest or nearly largest in the nation, regardless of how it is calculated.

“Wyoming has a big opportunity when it comes to the wage gap. It is striking to think about just how much Wyoming’s economy would benefit from women making wages equal to men. For instance, this report found the average Wyoming woman could buy 8,402 additional gallons of gas each year with money that represents the wage gap. When you think about the amount women could spend back into their communities, equal wages would be a huge win-win for families and for the Wyoming economy,” says Rebekah Hazelton, WYWF Director.

Discussion in the report includes factors associated with the wage gap, consequences of the wage gap for Wyoming, the impacts of COVID-19 on the wage gap and suggestions for how Wyoming can address wage inequality. The report found that more than 90% of the wage gap may be attributed to discrimination. The new report also includes discussion and data on the gaps associated with race and ethnicity in Wyoming. 

“Women in Wyoming have it tough enough, but women of color really suffer,” said Jenn Lowe, executive director, Equality State Policy Center. “The Equality State, the first to recognize suffrage for women, should be setting the bar when it comes to supporting women and their contributions to the economy. All Wyoming women, but especially Hispanic and Latina women, would benefit greatly from better access to education opportunities.”

WCW Chair, Jennifer Wilmetti adds that “the WCW works to eliminate economic barriers and advance opportunities for women in Wyoming. By shining a light on data that illustrates these barriers, we can better communicate with stakeholders across the state how important women are to the economy in Wyoming.”

While there are multiple ways to calculate the difference between men’s and women’s wages, this report used data from the American Community Survey microdata that is averaged over the previous five years. Researchers selected this method because, as the report states, it “allows us to include both full- and part-time workers and does not conflate the wage gap with hours worked since men, on average, work more hours (34.4 per week) than women (32.3 hour per week).” The authors consider this the current most unbiased method of reporting the gap. 

The previous most recent WYWF report released in early 2016 found Wyoming’s gender wage gap was $0.31; women made $0.69 for every $1.00 men made. (Because previous WYWF wage gap reports have included only women and men working full-time, year-round, the gap found in this report is not directly comparable to the 2016 numbers.) While direct comparison over time is sacrificed, the new method provides a more inclusive picture of Wyoming’s current wage gap. Since many workers work part-time, including their wages provides insight into the wage disparities of more Wyomingites. For more information visit wywf.org.

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