This is What the Gender Pay Difference Looks Like

Philip Bump

Today is Equal Pay Day, the day representing the point at which female workers finally catch up with their male counterparts' earnings the previous year. In other words, if you're an average American woman, today is the day that you've finally matched your male counterpart's 2012 earnings — only 99 days later. Or, put another way: For every dollar Mr. Smith earns, Mrs. Jones gets 77 cents.

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It's a subtle concept. The day isn't necessarily the same each year, depending on the existing wage discrepancy. For 2012, it was determined to be 77 percent nationally — which gives us the ratio above. That's not a universally agreed-upon figure — the conservative site Daily Caller notes conservative critiques of the number, mostly as a way to bash the president — but there's no question that on average women earn less than men.

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The group that compiled the 77 percent number, the American Association of University Women, also compiles data on a state-by-state basis. That ratio fluctuates wildly, as indicated below.

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Ratio of male-to-female pay, by state

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The five states with the best ratio: Vermont (87 percent), Maryland (86), Nevada (85). The worst: Wyoming (67), Louisiana (69), Utah (69).

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Of course, the actual dollar amounts depend on average earnings in the states — but can be dramatic.

Average salary difference between men and women, by state

In Utah, men earn $14,730 more per year than women. In Vermont, it's only $5,880.

But all of that is abstract. To better visualize the discrepancy — how the pay difference affects women — we created this simple tool. If we were to pay a man ten cents for every second he'd been on this page, here's how much he and an average woman would have earned, comparatively.


Extrapolate that over a lifetime, and the problem becomes obvious.