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Wyoming Ranked Third For Largest Lifetime Wage Gap

Flickr Creative Commons, by 401kcalculator.org

Wyoming has consistently ranked poorly among states when it comes to equal pay, but new research reveals the state as having the third largest lifetime wage gap in the country. Because of that gap, an average Wyoming woman makes about 651,000-dollars less than a man over the course of a 40-year-career.

Kate Gallagher Robbins is the Director of Research and Policy Analysis for The National Women’s Law Center, the organization that conducted the research. She says the organization was not just interested in what the pay gap looks like on a daily basis, but rather what it looks like over the course of a lifetime.

The male-dominated energy-industry, which makes up the largest sector of the state’s economy, may be partly responsible for that gap. But Robbins says it’s more complicated than that. For instance, women account for two-thirds of workers earning the minimum wage and low wages in the United States.

“We know Wyoming is an example in this respect as well, women are working in these minimum wage jobs and when you have minimum wage that is only 7.25 an hour, which is what Wyoming has, you know, you’re more likely to have a higher gap as well.”

The research also points to even bigger losses for women of color living in Wyoming. The research shows that Latinas and Native American women will lose more than a million while black and Asian women will lose more than 700,000-dollars over a career.

Robbins says the organization is hoping their new findings will be effective in making changes.

“One of the things that we have been doing and are going to continue to do, is fight for policies that are going to make the economic security of women and their families stronger. There’s a number of policy levers that we know can be pulled in order to move this forward and we’re going to continue to work on those policies at the state and national level.”

Robbins says stronger equal pay laws and a higher minimum wage could help close the pay gap.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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