Most people might assume that coastal cities are the best places for women to find jobs and establish careers, but a new study by SmartAsset, the personal finance tech company, proves otherwise.
Looking at factors like the pay gap, percentage of women in the labor force, the ratio of working women to working men, the unemployment rate among women, and women’s income after accounting housing costs in 507 metropolitan areas across the nation, the midwest, surprisingly, comes out on top. Neither New York nor Los Angeles made the top 25.
Among the top 10 best places for working women, half of them are located in the midwest, including the top three: Rochester, Minnesota, Columbia, Missouri, and Topeka, Kansas. And while the pay gap for the working population over age 15 hovers at 28%, which translates to women making an average of 72 cents per dollar men do, the numbers vary widely from metro to metro.
For example, women are paid 45% of what men are paid in the Provo-Orem area of Utah. But in the Santa Fe metro area in New Mexico, women make 91% of what men do. More encouragingly, the study also found that women have a lower rate of unemployment than men in 70% of the areas that were analyzed.
Here’s a closer look at the factors that topped Rochester, Columbia, and Topeka.
In Rochester, Minnesota, women are left with higher median incomes (after deducting housing costs) than in any other metro area. That’s an average of $23,697. Combine that figure with the fact the pay gap is relatively low at 82.4%, the percentage of women in the workforce is high (68.2%), and the unemployment rate is 3.5%, and it becomes clear why Rochester is number one.
In Columbia, Missouri, women make up 52% of all working people, which may be a result of the high percentage of health care and education jobs in the area. (Women make up 74% and 73% of health care and education workers, respectively, across the nation).
In Topeka, the number three area, 62% of the female population is in the workforce and take home about $20,374 after housing costs. The pay gap is 81%.