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(Press Release) NWLC Analysis of New Census Data Shows Substantial Increase in Women's Poverty, Decline in Health Insurance Coverage, No Improvement in Wage Gap
National Women's Law Center: The poverty rate for women has risen to almost 14%, according to a study of 2009 Census data conduceted by the National Women's Law Center. Poverty rates were much higher for women of color and single mothers. On the upside, the poverty rate did decline for older Americans, including elderly women living alone. Analysis also reveals gaps in health care coverage and wages between men and women. The organization is pressing Congress to make changes to assist the vulnerable population of women living in poverty.
"The poverty rate for women rose to 13.9 percent last year, the highest rate in 15 years, according to a National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) analysis of 2009 Census data released today. Over 16.4 million women were living in poverty, including nearly 7 million women in extreme poverty, with incomes below half of the federal poverty line. Poverty among men also rose in 2009, to 10.5 percent from 9.6 percent in 2008, but remained substantially lower than among women.
For some women, the analysis reveals an even bleaker picture. Poverty rates were substantially higher for women of color, approaching one in four among African-American women (24.6 percent compared to 23.3 percent in 2008); Hispanic women experienced a similar increase from 22.3 percent in 2008 to 23.8 percent last year. Nearly four in ten single mothers (38.5 percent) lived in poverty in 2009, up from 37.2 percent in 2008. More than 15.4 million children lived in poverty last year, a spike of nearly 1.4 million. Over half of poor children lived with single mothers in 2009.
'When over 16 million women are struggling to pull themselves and their families out of poverty, it’s insulting for Congress to consider spending hundreds of billions of dollars to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans,' said NWLC Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell. 'Congress should focus on measures to create jobs and help hard-pressed families, not millionaires.'
In addition, the wage gap between median earnings for men and women remained as wide as in 2008. Women working full-time, year-round in 2009 were paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. 'The wage gap makes it more difficult for families relying on women’s wages to achieve and maintain economic security,' said NWLC Co-President, Marcia D. Greenberger. 'The Senate must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in the current session to close the wage gap and secure fair pay for women.'