Earning

The top 10 cities for working women — and 'it's not just that the laws are good,' says labor expert

Share
SeventyFour | iStock | Getty Images Plus | Getty Images
Key Points
  • Two years into the pandemic, women still hold 1.4 million fewer jobs than they did at the start. Many have had to leave to take over childcare duties.
  • MagnifyMoney surveyed the 50 largest U.S. metro areas to see which has the best infrastructures in place for working women.
  • Among the top ten are Las Vegas, Seattle, Baltimore, and San Francisco.

Two years into the pandemic, "women who left the labor force are still not working due to the working conditions and the burden of having to support their families," says Sarita Gupta, vice president of U.S. Programs at the Ford Foundation and co-author of the forthcoming book about women's collective bargaining, "The Future We Need."

Women still hold 1.4 million fewer jobs than they did at the start of the pandemic, according to the National Women's Law Center. And in 2020, women's median hourly earnings were 84% of men's, according to the Pew Research Center. That means the national pay gap is 16%.

Some cities in the U.S. are working to change their infrastructure to cater to the many challenges women face as they balance work and family. MagnifyMoney recently compared the 50 largest U.S. metro areas to see which have the best systems in place. They considered metrics such as the percentage of unemployed women ages 20 to 64, the percentage of women business owners, and the average cost of daycare as a percentage of median earnings for women in the city.

In some of these metro areas, "it's not just that the laws are good," says Erica Smiley, executive director of workers' rights organization Jobs With Justice and co-author of "The Future We Need." In these areas, "people are organized in a way to be able to respond quickly and set the standards that they need in that moment."  

Here are the top 10 best U.S. places for working women, according to MagnifyMoney, including some of their specific ratings and each location's population per the U.S. Census Bureau.

10. Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, the average cost of daycare is 28.3% of the median woman's earnings.

Population: 641,903
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 6.1%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 22.4%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 12.9%

9. Minneapolis

Population: 429,954
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 2.9%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 20.3%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 18%

8. Boston

In Boston, the average cost of daycare is 38% of the median woman's earnings.

Population: 675,647
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 4%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 19.2%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 18.7%

7. Providence, RI

Population: 190,934
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 4.3%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 19.2%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 17.5%

6. Seattle

In Seattle, the average cost of daycare is 31.7% of the median woman's earnings.

Population: 737,015
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 4.1%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 21.8%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 23.4%

5. Baltimore

Population: 585,708
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 4.7%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 22.3%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 16.9%

4. Portland, Oregon

Cities like Portland have infrastructures for supporting women both in and out of the workplace.

"There are employment unions and there are tenants' unions," says Smiley. "In Portland, they actually started to have a legal framework to even support negotiations between tenants and corporate landlords."

Population: 652,503
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 4.2%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 21.3%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 19.5%

3. San Francisco

In San Francisco, 26% of the median woman's earnings goes toward daycare.

Population: 873,965
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 4.3%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 22.5%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 17.9%

2. Denver

Colorado recently enacted a new paid leave policy, available in 2024, which provides 12 weeks of paid leave for bonding with a new child.

Population: 715,522
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 3.3%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 24.4%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 17.3%

1. Washington, D.C.

Smiley was not at all surprised that Washington, D.C., came in first place. "It's one of those places where there are lots of protections in place for paid leave, for pregnancy accommodation," she says. Someone having a baby gets two weeks to care for a pregnancy and eight weeks to bond with a new child.

There's also "built in remedy for women who experience discrimination," she says.

Population: 689,545
Percentage of women who are unemployed: 4.6%
Percentage of businesses owned by women: 24%
Median earnings gap between men and women: 16.5%

"Women need to live in places and work in places where they are in fact getting paid, they're getting a fair return on the work that they do," says Gupta. "Where they have paid leave or access to paid family medical leave, and a real care infrastructure that will make a difference for how we get women back into the labor force."

More from Grow: