US Census Data Shows Gender Pay Gap Persists

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

March 8, 2022

The gender pay gap still persists to a large degree, according to new data from the US Census Bureau.

The data highlights the ongoing challenge to eliminate pay inequity between women and men. Occupations with the smallest gaps between men and women's median earnings (in which women's pay was 85% or more of men's) also tend to be those with lower median pay, such as:

  • Community and social services (94.7%) at $47,000;
  • Healthcare support (92.9%) at $30,150;
  • Office and administrative support (86.2%) at $37,500; and
  • Food preparation and serving (85.4%) at $23,400.

However, there are some higher-paying occupations in which women's earnings are at least 85% of men's, including:

  • Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media occupations (86.4%) at $52,000;
  • Architecture and engineering (87.3%) at $76,500; and
  • Life, physical and social sciences (88.6%) at $66,800.

But for many higher-paying occupations, the median pay gap continues to be large, with women employed as legal professionals earning only 54.8% of men's pay, female diagnostic and treating healthcare practitioners making 64.8% as much as men, and women in management on average being paid only 76.1% of male managers' earnings.

A Census Bureau article reporting on recent data noted that Equal Pay Day (the date in the new year to which women must work for the average pay for women to equal that of men the previous year) falls on March 15 this year, the earliest date since the it was first set in 1996. In 2021, Equal Pay Day fell on March 24.

Jurisdictions with the largest median earnings gaps were Wyoming ($21,676), Utah ($17,303) and the District of Columbia ($16,032). Puerto Rico has the most equitable median pay, with no statistically significant difference between men ($22,804) and women ($23,478). However, Puerto Rico also has the lowest median earnings among all measured jurisdictions. The next three states with the lowest earnings gap were Vermont ($4,600), Nevada ($6, 013) and Hawaii ($7,022).

Employers can help eliminate gender pay gaps in their organizations by conducting a pay equity review and carefully reviewing their policies and practices to eliminate biases and roadblocks that hinder women from advancing into the higher ranks of management.