As we reported, today’s poverty numbers show no improvement in the poverty rate for women overall. Hispanic women saw their poverty rate decline; African
American women did not. We haven’t finished crunching all the numbers. But we know that at least one group of women saw an increase in poverty: women 65 and older.
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 men 65 and older in 2013 was 6.8 percent, statistically unchanged from 2012. More than two-thirds (68.1 percent) of the elderly poor are women.
Today’s poverty numbers use the official poverty measure which counts income from Social Security—and a good thing, too. Without Social Security, four times as many older Americans—14.7 million more—would be poor, according to the Census Bureau. But the official poverty measure doesn’t take account of out-of-pocket medical expenses. The Supplemental Poverty Measure does—and last year, it showed that poverty among seniors is far worse than first appears.
Data using the Supplemental Poverty Measure will be released later this fall. But today’s data make it clear enough that we need to improve retirement security for women.