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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Study finds Grand Rapids has the lowest percentage of women outearning their husbands

Grand Rapids has lowest percentage of female breadwinners, according to recent report
Manuel Gross
Pensamiento Administrativo

A February study found that out of all large U.S. metropolitan areas, Grand Rapids has the lowest percentage of women earning more than their husbands. 

The report, "Cities Where Women Outearn Their Husbands,” was done by Self Financial and measured data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The study found the Grand Rapids-Wyoming region has the lowest percentage of female breadwinners at 23.8%.

In the United States as a whole, the the report cited 29% of wives make more than their male counterparts.

"Wives who earn more than their husbands were much more unusual 40 years ago. In 1981, just 15.9 percent of wives were breadwinners. By 2019, that figure had nearly doubled, but after years of mostly steady increases, the number of wives who outearn their husbands has plateaued," Lauren Bringle, who authored the report, said. Bringle added the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted challenges for working women, noting many left the workforce or reduced hours due to lack of childcare.

Sandra Gaddy, CEO of the Women's Resource Center in Grand Rapids, said the report's findings weren't surprising.

“I do think it fits where we are right now. Women have worked really really hard for many many years and there’s still tremendous gaps in earnings in positions in the workforce," Gaddy said.

She and her team are working to equip and empower women in the workforce, helping them navigate their way to earning higher wages. Gaddy said that often starts with developing soft skills and researching companies and positions.

“We have to know our worth and sometimes that requires us talking to mentors who may be in that field to find out based off your education and based on your experience no I’m not going to sell myself short at 10-15% less than my male counterparts and you need to know that walking in the door," Gaddy said.

In addition to ranking cities where women outearn men, Self Financial compared careers with the highest and lowest pay ratios between husbands and wives. For more information about the report, click here.

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