Study: Wake County Wage Gap Bigger Than In Other Parts Of The Country

Jul 18, 2017

Women in Wake County earn a lot less than their male counterparts, and the wage gap is even worse than in other parts of the country.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners initiated a study to examine how Wake's gender pay gap compares to Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and Travis County, Texas. Like Wake, those two counties are home to state capitals and research universities.

Professor Whitney Ross Manzo authored the study with Professor David McLennan--both teach political science at Meredith College in Raleigh.

Median salaries for women in Wake County lagged behind men in all five educational categories. For example, the gap between men and women with less than a high school degree is almost 41 percent, with a median salary of $21,513 for men compared to $12,723 for similarly educated women.

The gender gap hardly improves with more education. The median salary for men in Wake County with a graduate or professional degree is $82,654, compared to $50,093 for women--a gap of almost 40 percent.

"That was really interesting to find, that even when women go on to get graduate or professional degrees the wage gap is not getting smaller," Ross Manzo said. "In fact, in some areas is gets much bigger."

When it comes to race and ethnicity, Wake County does not come off looking too good when compared to counties in other parts of the country either.

"Wake County had the worst wage gap among whites and Asians compared to Suffolk County and Travis County," said Ross Manzo, adding that she and her co-author were surprised to find Travis County and Suffolk County had lower wage gaps in every single education level they analyzed.

In an analysis of wages in various fields of work, the researchers found that Wake County had a larger gender wage gap than Travis and Suffolk counties in nine of 12 areas.

"The legal field has the highest wage gap and it is over 50 percent in Wake County, that beat out Suffolk and Travis County by 15 points," Professor Ross Manzo said.

In health care, Wake County's gender pay gap is almost 38 percent, with men getting a median salary of $82,002 versus a median salary of $50,846 for women. In Travis County, Texas, the wage gap in health care is just 6.5 percent. In Suffolk County, Massachusetts, the gap is just below 24 percent.