Women’s Wage Gap Slightly Wider in Tennessee

Knoxville — The Tennessee Economic Council on Women said the wage gap between women and men is slightly wider in Tennessee than nationally.

A University of Tennessee economist said the gap exists for two main reasons.

“When women choose traditional careers, such as elementary school teaching or secretarial work, they are going to find themselves in labor sectors that are low paying,” said Dr. Matt Murray.

“But apart from low-wage jobs, women are still only earning 90 cents of every dollar earned by men,” Murray said. “That differential is, by most accounts, attributable to some form of discrimination in the labor markets.”

The council issued a report that said women in Tennessee earn 73 percent of what men earn, a slightly larger gap than the national average. Across the United States, women earn an average of 74 percent of what men earn.

Murray said there may be a cultural explanation for the higher wage gap in Tennessee.

“It’s probably reflective of the historical and social patterns in Tennessee, where men were the primary wage earners and women were the supplemental wage earners,” Murray said. “I think that is changing rapidly, and will continue to change in the years to come.”

The council announced Thursday May 11 as National Equal Pay Day, because it’s the 94th working day of the year. The council said it takes women in Tennessee 94 extra days of working to equal the wages earned by men.