County data on gender wage gap localizes income disparities on Equal Pay Day

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2021

Alex Rossman

Delta and Schoolcraft counties have biggest gender wage gap, followed by Livingston and Oakland counties; Eaton County has smallest wage gap

Lansing—March 24 is Equal Pay Day in Michigan and around the country, marking the day when women will have earned the same amount on average as men have at the end of 2020. In helping draw attention to this concerning issue today and every day, the Michigan League for Public Policy is highlighting a series of county-specific fact sheets that note, among other key data, the wage gap between men and women in each of the state’s 83 counties.

Nationally, women are, on average, paid 82 cents to every dollar their white, male counterpart makes. And for women of color, the disparities are even more stark: When compared to the pay of white men, Equal Pay Day for Black women doesn’t take place until  Aug. 3; Native American women will finally earn their equal pay on Sept. 8 and Latinx women, who have the lowest median pay, won’t receive the same pay as white men until Oct. 21.

“This local data brings the gender wage gap home for people, especially policymakers,” Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO  of the Michigan League for Public Policy said. “Workers with lower wages, two-thirds of which are women, are the backbone of our state and nation’s workforce and it is long overdue for lawmakers to recognize that by passing pay equity legislation, raising the minimum wage and enacting paid leave for all.”

In more ways than one, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a crisis that hits women harder. Women are disproportionately working on the frontlines and are essential to our nation’s economy.

In order to help legislators and other decision-makers craft policies that work for all, the League produces a series of census county fact sheets every January. The fact sheets highlight, among other things, the wage gap between men and women.

In the statewide fact sheet, Michigan’s wage gap is lower than the national average: the median wage for women is $41,546 while men earn a median wage of $53,734, or 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That gap is much larger in some counties, with women in Delta and Schoolcraft counties earning 63 cents for every dollar a man earns, and 70 cents on the dollar in Livingston and Oakland counties. Eaton County has the smallest wage gap, with women earning 88 cents for every dollar a man earns. More data on discrepancies in pay can be found in the League’s census fact sheets based on county and legislative district.

“COVID-19 has made these gender wage disparities more clear than ever—and as women continue to bear the brunt of caregiving in this country, the closures of schools and lack of child care are making it even harder for women to make ends meet. Beyond the wage gap, we’re seeing women dropping out of the workforce altogether in order to care for children, elderly parents and others,” Jacobs said.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, women’s labor force participation in the United States is back to the level it was in 1980.

Each year, women individually lose an average of $10,000 to the wage gap— the equivalent of several months of rent— and $935 billion collectively.


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on opportunity for all. Its mission is to advance economic security, racial equity, health and well-being for all people in Michigan through policy change. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

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