Working Women in North Carolina

Monday, March 18, 2019

 Status of Women in North Carolina: Employment & Earnings Published by North Carolina Council for Women, June 2018. 	North Carolina State Documents Collection. State Library of North Carolina. According to 2016 census estimates, there are approximately 5.2 million women in North Carolina, who make up 51% of the state’s population. Slightly more than 57% of women in North Carolina are in the labor force. A new state government publication released in 2018 examines the economic progress of women in North Carolina. The report, Status of Women in North Carolina: Employment and Earnings, was published by the North Carolina Department of Administration’s Council for Women and Youth Involvement. The Council on Women’s mission is to advise the Governor, the legislature and state agencies on the issues impacting women in North Carolina. This report is the first in a series of four planned publications from the council on the status of women in North Carolina. Though some progress has been made, the gender wage gap for women still needs improvement. 

Wage gaps

As in all states, women in North Carolina working full time earn less than men. The median income for women working full-time in North Carolina is $36,400, compared to $45,000 for men.  Women who work full time, year-round in North Carolina make about 80.9 cents for every dollar a man earns.  Women’s median earnings in North Carolina vary greatly by county. In eight counties (Cabarrus, Camden, Chatham, Durham, Mecklenburg, Orange, Union and Wake) women’s earnings are above the national median of $40,000, but in 17 counties (Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Avery, Bertie, Clay, Columbus, Greene, Halifax, Lenoir, Macon, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrell, and Washington) median earnings for women are below $30,000. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the wage gap between men and women is closing, but very slowly. The Institute predicts it will be 2060 before there is no wage gap for women in North Carolina.   

Wage gap by education attainment

Higher levels of education usually mean higher income for both women and men, but the wage gap between men and women in North Carolina also increases with higher levels of education.  Women with a high school diploma or equivalent make 79.4% percent of their male counterparts. But when men and women in North Carolina both have a bachelor’s degree or higher, women only make 67.6% of the median earnings of men.

Wage gap for women of color

Earnings for women in North Carolina vary greatly by race and ethnicity. Asian/Pacific Islander women have the highest median earnings, $40,553 in annual earnings, followed by White women at $40,180.  Hispanic women have the lowest median earnings, $24,322. 


These statistics and many more are included in the report. The conclusion of the report has recommendations for reducing the gender wage gap, especially for women of color; improving work-life balances; improving child care options; and increasing employment opportunities for all women in North Carolina. 

Want to learn more: 

Find the complete report in the North Carolina State Government Publications Collection:

For prior reports on the Status of Women in North Carolina see:

Status of Women in North Carolina (2013)

Key Findings on the Economic Status of Women in North Carolina (2012)

Status of Women in North Carolina (1994)

Status of Women in North Carolina presented to the 1975 North Carolina General Assembly

Denise Jones, State Publications Clearinghouse Liaison