By Teresa Wiltz

Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, has signed a new law prohibiting prospective employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.

The law also bars employers from screening applicants based on their previous compensation.

In the absence of legislation from the U.S. Congress, governors in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, North Dakota and Oregon have signed equal pay laws in recent years.

The latest move to outlaw disparate pay arrives as new studies indicate that American women earn 80 percent of what men earn doing comparable work.

A study released Monday by the Harvard Business Review found that the gap widens as workers age. The report found that the average male college graduate by his early forties earns 55 percent more than the average female college graduate of the same age.

In public workforces, male state workers earn more than their female counterparts in many states.

In a statement, Carney said the Delaware law would address the “persistent wage gap between men and women” and guarantee men and women would be paid the same for equal work.