California women earn 88% of men’s pay, second-smallest gap nationwide – Orange County Register

Is the much-debated pay gap between women and men actually narrowing?

A recent report shows California women earned 88 percent of what men were paid last year, the second-narrowest pay gap in the nation.

The annual report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on gender pay differences — based on median weekly earnings of workers in full-time jobs, both wage and salary positions — shows a California pay gap in 2016 tied with New Mexico and behind only Vermont’s 90.2 percent. FYI: Utah had the lowest pay equity at 69.9 percent.

That’s a statewide improvement from 2015 when California women’s median pay was down to 84.8 percent of men’s statewide earnings — No. 8 nationally and the lowest since 2002. Nationally, women earned 81.9 percent of men’s pay last year by this metric, just off 2014’s 82.5 percent peak.

Still, since this gender-pay measurement was first tracked in 1997, California’s gender pay gap has run in a modest band — from a low of 82.9 percent (2001) to a high of 90.2 percent (2005).

What accounts for the last year’s relative improvement in women’s paychecks? Here are four California trends to ponder from the report on full-time work, courtesy of my trusty spreadsheet …

1. California women’s earnings ranked higher nationally. Statewide, 2016’s weekly pay for women was $814, ninth highest in the nation. (Highest? Washington, D.C. at $1,117. Lowest? Mississippi at $624.) For men, California median pay is $925 a week, ranking No. 20. (Highest? D.C. at $1,274. Lowest? Arkansas at $769.)

2. Women’s earnings rose more. California saw a 5 percent jump in women’s weekly pay vs. 3.2 percent nationally and 19th best. California men’s pay rose 1.2 percent, well below 2.2 percent nationally and No. 34 of 50 states and D.C.

3. Men enjoyed faster full-time job growth last year in the state. California’s female workforce grew 1.7 percent to 5.38 million, just 27th fastest growth among the states. Statewide, 7.48 million…

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