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Study ranks New Jersey 34th in women’s equality

Tuesday is Women’s Equality Day, but unfortunately, New Jersey doesn’t have much to be proud of when it comes to equality for women.

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A report from WalletHub.com finds New Jersey ranks 34th in the United States in terms of women’s equality.

The ranking is comprised of three categories: workplace environment, health and education, and political empowerment. Within the three categories, 10 key metrics were analyzed, including pay, unemployment rate, number of minimum wage workers, number of executives, bachelor’s degrees, life expectancy, and representation in various levels of government. All of the metrics were compared between men and women.

“In individual categories, for the workplace environment New Jersey ranks No. 36,” said Richie Bernardo, financial writer at WalletHub.com, “and for health and education it ranks No. 33.”

New Jersey was ranked 25th in political empowerment thanks to numerous female state legislators, though the Garden State currently lacks female representation in Congress.

The earnings gap in New Jersey is also bigger than other states, Bernardo said, with men earning 20.6 percent more than women.

“But there are other areas to look at, such as career choices and domestic roles,” he said. “Women tend to leave the workplace to raise families more often, so (the earnings gap) isn’t a reliable metric to look at, but it’s certainly one that needs improvement.”

Bernardo noted there were roughly 32 percent more women making minimum wage than men in New Jersey.

While New Jersey’s ranking is below average, its neighboring states performed much better. New York and Maryland were Nos. 3 and 4 overall, while Delaware came in at No. 6.

“In New York in particular, the workplace environment is really grand for women,” Bernardo said. “Women make up about half of executive positions, they don’t have a wide gap in workday hours, and they have low unemployment rate disparity. Men are actually disadvantaged in that category, with about 1.6 percent more unemployment amongst men than women.”

Hawaii was ranked No. 1 in having equality for women.

As a whole, the United States is rapidly falling behind in terms of women’s equality. In 2013, the U.S. failed to make the Top 20 of the World Economic Forum’s list of most gender-equal countries.

“We rank a disappointing No. 23, and we’ve been steadily going down in rank since 2011,” Bernardo said.

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