10 Best Paying Cities for Women

Pay rates vary from one region to another within the U.S.; in some places, the pay gap between men and women varies substantially, too

If there were a real City of Cibola—with streets paved with gold—women would need to go there, because they have—and get—less of it.

Women still haven’t reached pay parity with men, earning just 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. They spend longer periods out of the workforce, due to raising children and providing care to other family members. And to top it off, they face the prospect of needing more money in retirement than their male counterparts.

But women are running behind in retirement savings, too. They save only 7.5 percent of their salaries, compared with men who save 8.7 percent of larger salaries. They have smaller balances than men; in 2015, women had an average plan balance of $71,060, compared to men’s $119,150, according to an Aon Hewitt study.

And, according to that study, they will also need considerably more than men to pay their way through a longer and more expensive retirement, during which they are statistically more likely to need care—including long-term care. In addition, they’re statistically more likely to have to take hardship withdrawals from their 401(k) accounts during their working years.

Millennial women are doing even worse; their high loads of student loan debt is a drag on their ability to save. They’re only putting away a median of 5 percent of their personal income, compared with 7 percent for men the same age, and have 50 percent less in their 401(k) plan. Student loans represent 64 percent of their average total household debt.

(Related: 10 Most Affordable Big Cities to Buy a Home)

So what’s to be done? For starters, looking for a place that can give a woman a leg up when it comes to money.

It’s no secret that pay rates vary from one region to another within the U.S.; in some places, the pay gap between men and women varies substantially, too. 24/7 Wall Street calculated women’s median earnings as a percent of men’s median earnings in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas to see where they do the best and the worst.

Drawing on data on median earnings, by metro area and by sex, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), median earnings for specific sectors, subsectors, and occupations, as well as median household income and data on the percentage of women and men in specific sectors, 24/7 Wall Street identified the 10 best-paying and 10 worst-paying cities for women. Below are the 10 best.

Graceland in Memphis. (Photo: AP)

In the Memphis area, women’s median earnings of $36,317 a year is $2,700 below the U.S. median female earnings. (Photo: AP)

10. Memphis, Tennessee/Mississippi/Arkansas

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 85.8 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $42,314

  • Median earnings for women: $36,317

Before you go getting too excited about the opportunities that Memphis presents, you should know that in some places, the reason the pay gap is smaller between men and women is that salaries overall are lower.

While the pay gap in Memphis is the 10th smallest among large U.S. metropolitan areas, women’s median earnings of $36,317 a year is $2,700 below the U.S. median female earnings. So even though your pay will be closer to that of your male coworkers, it will be below what you could make in other cities.

Greensboro skyline.

Just 40 percent of management positions in the Greensboro area are filled by women. (Photo: ThinkStock)

9. Greensboro-High Point, North Carolina

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 85.9 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $40,928

  • Median earnings for women: $35,157

This may be one of the lowest pay gaps in the country, but there’s another problem here for women: the old glass ceiling, which doesn’t have a whole lot of cracks in it yet.

24/7 Wall Street said that just 40 percent of management positions in this city are filled by women, and the typical pay for those women runs about $52,000 a year. A man in that post would make a median of $24,000 more.

View of Jersey City from Liberty State Park.

In the New York-Newark area, women still are $8,000 behind the typical male earner. (Photo: ThinkStock)

8. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 85.9 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $57,280

  • Median earnings for women: $49,230

While 24/7 Wall Street said that areas with low pay gaps also tend to have low salaries, the New York City area is an exception to the rule. Not only do New Yorkers tend to earn more than in other parts of the country, women earn an average of $10,000 more annually on a median yearly salary of $49,230.

Of course, they still come in about $8,000 behind the typical New York male earner, but overall they’re ahead of the game. And New York also has the Women’s Equality Agenda—a group of bills signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in October of 2015 that are intended to strengthen workplace equality.

Yale University in New Haven.

Median earnings for women in the New Haven area are $49,348. (Photo: ThinkStock)

7. New Haven-Milford, Connecticut

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 86.3 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $57,173

  • Median earnings for women: $49,348

While nationally women are slightly less likely to be employed than men, at 47.5 percent of the workforce, it’s closer to parity in New Haven, at 49.4 percent.

In addition, the earnings gap is smaller—in this case, more because there are fewer women in lower-paying occupations. For instance, women make up 54.3 percent of all food preparation and service occupations nationally, but for just 48.9 percent of those in New Haven.

Denver Broncos fans. (Photo: AP)

The typical male in the Denver area earns $52,089 a year, and the typical female $45,543 a year—both higher than the national medians. (Photo: AP)

6. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 87.4 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $52,089

  • Median earnings for women: $45,543

In the Denver area, the relatively small gap between men’s and women’s pay isn’t due to lower overall salaries, but to women being better represented in higher-paying fields. The typical male here earns $52,089 a year, and the typical female $45,543 a year—both higher than the national medians.

Traditionally male professions with good female representations here include architects and engineers (20.8 percent here are women, compared with 15.4 percent nationwide) and life, physical and social scientists (55.4 percent  are women, compared with 46.3 percent nationally).

Fulton Mall in Fresno. (Photo: AP)

In the fields of engineering and architecture, females get higher median wages than men, in the Fresno area. (Photo: AP)

5. Fresno, California

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 87.8 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $40,626

  • Median earnings for women: $35,674

Here’s one place where women can actually make out, getting a higher salary than their male counterparts—in the fields of engineering or architecture, where females get higher median wages than men, at $86,899 a year versus $73,921.

Perhaps not surprisingly, women make up 22 percent of Fresno’s architecture and engineering positions. It may still not be parity, but it’s the second highest female representation in the field of any major metro area.

Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles.
Women in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations in L.A. trail men in these fields. (Photo: ThinkStock)

4. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 89.9 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $45,733

  • Median earnings for women: $41,127

Both high- and low-paying occupations offer better opportunities for women to close the gender pay gap in this area, although—interestingly—not among Hollywood actors. While women life, physical, or social scientists in Los Angeles make as much as male counterparts, and even more than women scientists nationally, community and social service occupations, as well as office and administrative support jobs, also provide them with higher pay than they’d get in other areas.

Actors? Not so much. Women in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations in L.A. trail men in these fields; the gap nationally is 86 percent, but here it’s substantially bigger: 78 percent.

Daytona Beach.

Women can do better here in the Daytona Beach area, with a smaller pay gap, but it depends on the profession. (Photo: ThinkStock)

3. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 90.2 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $35,989

  • Median earnings for women: $32,458

Women can do better here, with a smaller pay gap, but it depends on the profession. Computer and mathematical professions, for instance, provide men with more than $70,000 annually, but women only rate a median of $38,750—and make up less than a third of that workforce.

And women have less of a presence in some of the lower-paying industries, such as food service—where just 44.3 percent of the jobs are held by women. Nationally, that figure is 54.3 percent. That also skews the results to make the pay gap less.

Duke fans cheering basketball team. (Photo: AP)

The pay gap in the Durham-Chapel Hill area is the narrowest in the U.S. (Photo: AP)

2. Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 91.7 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $45,732

  • Median earnings for women: $41,938

Corporate research complex Research Triangle Park may make all the difference for women in this area, since 19.7 percent of all architects and engineers in the metro area are women. In addition, they earn roughly $7,000 more than their male counterparts, each some of the highest figures nationwide.

With more than 200 companies at the complex offering such opportunities, that makes the pay gap here one of the narrowest in the country.

Cape Coral, Florida.

In the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area, women can out-earn men in some industries. (Photo: ThinkStock)

1. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida

  • Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s: 93.6 percent

  • Median earnings for men: $37,402

  • Median earnings for women: $35,023

This is the lowest financial gap between men’s and women’s pay in the country, with women even out-earning their male counterparts in some industries.

The business and financial services sector in Cape Coral, for instance, is particularly lucrative for women, at a typical annual salary of $51,296—more than the $51,303 a typical man earns. And despite the fact that nationally, female health technologists and technicians earn just 82 percent of the median male earnings, the typical Cape Coral woman in the profession earns $5,100 more than the typical male in the position.

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