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The Census Bureau just released new data on poverty in the U.S. in 2013. In the fourth full year since the recession officially ended in June 2009, the national poverty rate was 14.5 percent, down from 15.0 percent in 2012 but still very high. And the poverty rate for women—who face a greater risk of poverty than men throughout their lives—was unchanged from 2012.

We’ll be crunching numbers throughout the day, but here’s a first look at poverty among women and their families in 2013:

  • More than 1 in 7 women—nearly 18 million—lived in poverty. The poverty rate among adult women (18+) was 14.5 percent in 2013, the same level as 2012 and statistically unchanged since 2010—which means for the fourth year in a row, women lived in poverty at rates not seen since the early 1990s.
  • Among women who head families, nearly 4 in 10 (39.6 percent) lived in poverty in 2013, statistically unchanged from 2012 (40.9 percent).
  • At 11.0 percent, the poverty rate for men in 2013 was also unchanged from 2012 and higher than it was before the start of the recession, but still lower than women’s lowest-ever poverty rate (11.5 percent in 2000).
  • The poverty rate for women 65 and older increased to 11.6 percent in 2013 from 11.0 in 2012, a statistically significant change. The poverty rate for elderly women living alone was even higher at 19.0 percent, but statistically unchanged from 2012. More than two-thirds (68.1 percent) of the elderly poor are women.
  • The poverty rate for African American women was 25.3 percent in 2013, statistically unchanged from 25.1 percent in 2012.
  • One bright spot in today’s news: the poverty rate for Hispanic women declined to 23.1 percent from 24.8 percent in 2012—a statistically significant decrease, but still more than twice the poverty rate for men overall.
  • In another bright spot, child poverty declined for the first time since 2000, to 19.9 percent from 21.8 percent in 2012. But that means almost one in five children still lived in poverty—and nearly 59 percent of poor children lived in female-headed families in 2013, a statistically larger share than in 2012 (56.1 percent).

Stay tuned to NWLC’s blog and follow @nwlc on Twitter (#talkpoverty) and Facebook to learn more about what the Census data tells us about how women and their families are faring—and to find out what you can do to help make sure today’s high poverty rates do not become the new normal.


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