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HOUSTON (CW39) It’s not unusual in some households to find some Wives who earn more than their Husbands. In 1981, 15.9 percent of wives were breadwinners. By 2019, that figure nearly doubled. But after years of mostly steady increases, the number of wives who make more than their husbands has plateaued. The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially challenging for working women, with many leaving the workforce or reducing their hours, due to lack of childcare. Depending on how the effects of COVID-19 continue to impact families, the share of wives who are the primary breadwinners may look very different in the years ahead.

To find the metropolitan areas with the most female breadwinners, researchers at Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the percentage of wives earning more than their husbands. Researchers also calculated the median pay ratio for wives earning more than their husbands, median earnings for wives earning more than their husbands, the median pay ratio for all married women, and median earnings for all married women. The pay ratio is defined as women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings
To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis.

Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on Population Size:
Small metros: 100,000-349,999
Midsize metros: 350,000-999,999
Large metros: more than 1,000,000

The analysis found that in the Houston Metro Area, 27.3% of women earn more than their husbands. Out of all large U.S. metropolitan areas, Houston has the 4th lowest percentage of women earning more than their husbands.

Data for the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX metro area:
Percentage of wives earning more than their husbands: 27.3%
Median pay ratio for wives earning more than their husbands: +60.3%
Median earnings for wives earning more than their husbands: $70,000
Median pay ratio for all married women: -35.4%
Median earnings for all married women: $40,000
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
Percentage of wives earning more than their husbands: 29.6%
Median pay ratio for wives earning more than their husbands: +62.5%
Median earnings for wives earning more than their husbands: $65,000
Median pay ratio for all married women: -31.4%
Median earnings for all married women: $40,000

The earnings ratio defined here as female earnings as a percentage of male earnings among married couples varies considerably depending on their occupations. Husbands who out earn their wives by the largest margin tend to be in high-paying occupations, such as physicians or executives. Those who earn the least when compared to their partner are more likely to be in lower-paying occupations like teaching assistants or childcare workers.

When considering the occupation of the wife, a similar set of jobs emerges. However, the difference in pay tends to be more extreme when the husband is the breadwinner than when the wife is the breadwinner. For example, while the wife of a male physician typically earns about half of what her husband earns, a female physician is expected to earn just 10 percent more than her husband.

While wives are much more likely to outearn their husbands today than they were several decades ago, the share of female breadwinners varies on a geographic basis due to cultural and demographic differences, too. At the regional level, female breadwinners tend to be more common in the Northeast, where education levels are highest. Vermont and New York are home to the largest share of wives who outearn their husbands, at 36.2 and 32.9 percent, respectively. Utah and Idaho have the lowest percentages of wives who earn more than their husbands, at just 22.4 and 24.7 percent, respectively.

If you’d like a break down on more than 250 metros and all 50 states, visit Self Financial’s Website Link for more information.

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