The bad news is that working women in Texas earned less than men and less than the national average last year.
The good news is that the gap between women's and men's pay in Texas was smaller than the national average -- and has been shrinking since 1997, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking such information by state.
Experts say lower pay for women can have far-reaching economic effects, including less disposable income to spend, slower advancement in the workplace and a potentially higher dropout rate.
In Texas, full-time female workers earned a median $619 a week in 2011 vs. $684 nationally, according to BLS data released Monday. However, Texas women made 84.8 percent of men's earnings -- higher than the national ratio of 82.2 percent.
Cheryl Abbot, a BLS regional economist in Dallas, noted that women earn less than men in all 50 states. East Coast states pay women the most: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland topped $800 a week.
Texas women ranked No. 36 by dollars but No. 8 by their earnings ratio to men. The better ratio is probably because the weekly pay for Texas men also is low -- $730, ranking No. 46. The U.S. median was $832.
Some differences in pay between women and men reflect geography, prevalent occupations and industries, and the age of the labor force, experts said.
Two recent studies point to more intrinsic issues at play.
Women's life choices, such as quitting work to have children, affect gender inequality but don't explain everything, said Ann Hughes, director of Texas Woman's University's School of Management. A recent report by the American Association of University Women found that female graduates made 18 percent less than men in their first year after college, she noted.
The New York-based nonprofit Catalyst has studied MBA students who graduated from 1996 to 2007 and found a gender gap in annual pay of $4,600 in their first job, which widened to more than $30,000 by midcareer.
A more recent report revealed that women get fewer "hot jobs" that are key to climbing the corporate ladder and come with higher pay.
"We still see gender gaps early on -- even among this well-positioned group -- that tells us there's more work to be done," said Catalyst researcher Christine Silva.