(Washington, D.C.)  More than 18 million women lived in poverty last year, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data also showed that women working full time, year round, were typically paid only 79 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Women’s uninsurance rates declined across the board, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  

Poverty among Women and Families

The following is a quote from Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), on the poverty data:

“Being a woman shouldn’t put you at greater risk of poverty—but it does. The odds of being poor are about one-third higher for women than for men. And if you’re a woman of color, a single mother, a woman with a disability, or an older woman living alone, the odds of being poor are even greater. Continued job growth in 2014 failed to significantly lower the overall poverty rate or increase median household income.

“But the data show that public programs played a critical role in alleviating hardship. The supplemental poverty measure reveals that without Social Security, the poverty rate for seniors would be a staggering 50 percent, instead of 14 percent. Without refundable tax credits, the poverty rate for children would be 24 percent, instead of 17 percent. But by any measure, poverty rates are shamefully high for a nation as wealthy as ours. Today’s data should be a wake-up call to lawmakers to protect and strengthen policies and programs that help lift women and their families out of poverty and give them a chance at a better life.”

  • More than one in seven women—more than 18 million—lived in poverty. The poverty rate among women was 14.7 percent in 2014.
  • The poverty rate for adult men in 2014, 10.9 percent, was lower than for women.
  • Poverty rates were particularly high for women who head families (39.8 percent), African American women (25.0 percent), Hispanic women (22.8 percent), women 65 and older living alone (19.7 percent), and women ages 18-64 with a disability (31.9 percent).
  • The poverty rate for women 65 and older was 12.1 percent in 2014, compared to 7.4 percent for their male counterparts. More than two-thirds (68.1 percent) of elderly poor are women.
  • More than half (56.7 percent) of poor children lived in female-headed families in 2014.

 The Wage Gap

The following is a quote from Fatima Goss Graves, Senior Vice President for Program, NWLC, on the wage gap:

“Once again, today’s wage gap data doesn’t bring good news. Women on average make only 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. That means that millions of women and their families continue to slide backwards year after year. We can and must do better than this. It’s time to close the wage gap now.”

  • Women working full time, year round were paid only 79 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, statistically unchanged since 2007.
  • African American women working full time, year round were typically paid only 60 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, statistically unchanged from 2013.
  • Hispanic women working full time, year round were typically paid only 55 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, statistically unchanged from 2013.
  • Asian American women working full time, year round were typically paid only 84 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, statistically unchanged from 2013.
  • White, non-Hispanic women working full time, year round were typically paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, statistically unchanged from 2013.

Health Insurance

The following is a quote from Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy, NWLC, on the health insurance data:

“Today’s data—which show that 90 percent of women and girls have health insurance—is a testament to the value of the Affordable Care Act for women and their families. The remarkable decline in the proportion of women who lack health insurance extends to women of all races. With affordable health insurance, women have a far better chance of protecting themselves and their families, and today’s numbers show the ACA to be a resounding success.”

  • As of 2014, more than 90 percent of women and girls have health insurance.
  • Uninsurance among working-age women fell by 4 percentage points between 2013 and 2014, from 17 percent to 13 percent for women ages 18 to 64.
  • Women continue to rely more heavily on Medicaid coverage than men. Sixteen percent of adult women ages 18 to 64 are enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 13 percent of adult men. Overall, Medicaid coverage for women in this age group grew by nearly 3 percentage points.
  • Direct purchase health insurance—which includes the health insurance Marketplaces—now covers 13.6 million adult women, a 43 percent increase from 2013; 13.6 million women purchased coverage for themselves in 2014.
  • Adult women of all races gained health insurance in 2014, with Hispanic women experiencing the greatest gains in proportion to their numbers. However, Hispanic women still have the highest rates of uninsurance among women ages 18-64, with 24 percent going without coverage, compared to 13 percent of white women and almost 15 percent of African American women.

NWLC will continue to update its analysis here: http://www.nwlc.org/povertydata

 

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Contact: Alicia Gurrieri, agurrieri@nwlc.org or (202) 588-5180