Press Release

Poverty Rate Falls But Being a Woman Increases the Odds of Being Poor in America, Uninsurance Among Women Dropped by Nearly One-Third Under the ACA, and the Wage Gap Closes by Just One Penny, NWLC Analysis Shows

More than 1 in 5 young Millennial women (ages 18-24) were poor in 2015

 

(Washington, D.C.)  Despite some substantial improvements on poverty, wages and health insurance for millions of Americans—nearly 17 million women lived in poverty last year, according to analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) of data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. More than one in five or 3.1 million young Millennial women (ages 18-24) were poor last year. The data also show that women working full-time, year round, were paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts in 2015. Uninsurance among women (ages 18-64) dropped by nearly one-third, which means that 5.4 million more women have health insurance since the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2013.

Poverty in 2015:

  • More than 1 in 8 adult women (18 and older), nearly 17 million, lived in poverty in 2015. The poverty rate among women was 13.4 percent in 2015, down from 14.7 percent in 2014.
  • The poverty rate for adult men in 2015 was 9.9 percent, down from 10.9 percent in 2014.
  • Poverty rates were higher for women who head families (36.5 percent), African American women (23.1 percent), and Hispanic women (20.9 percent).
  • More than 1 in 5 (21.7 percent) young, Millennial women (ages 18-24) were poor in 2015.
  • Millennial women (ages 18-34) were much more likely than their male counterparts to be in poverty. They were also much more likely than women of any other age group to be poor.
  • The poverty rate for women 65 and older decreased to 10.3 percent in 2015, from 12.1 percent in 2014. About two-thirds (64.6 percent) of the elderly poor were women in 2015.
  • About 1 in 5 (19.7 percent) children lived in poverty in 2015, down from 21.1 percent in 2014. More than half (56.2 percent) lived in female-headed families in 2015, unchanged from 2014.

“Today’s news is mixed,” said Anna Chu, NWLC Vice President for Income Security and Education.  “The official poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points and real median income rose 5.2 percentage points from 2014 to 2015.  But the grim reality is that being a woman still increases the odds of being poor in America. Women are 35 percent more likely to be poor than men. More than 1 in 8 women was poor in 2015. Women are about two-thirds of the elderly poor. And nearly 1 in 5 children were poor – more than half living in families headed by women. These statistics should be a loud wake-up call for Congress to strengthen income and work supports for women and families, including investing in child care, expanding tax credits for working families, and protecting the social safety net. Millions of Americans can’t wait any longer.”

Wage Gap in 2015:

  • Women working full time, year round were paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts in 2015, statistically unchanged from 2014.
  • Black women working full time, year round were typically paid only 63 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts in 2015, statistically unchanged from 2014.
  • Hispanic women working full time, year round were typically paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts in 2015, statistically unchanged from 2014.

“Women of America, if you are looking for a raise, don’t get your hopes up:  the wage gap closed by only a penny last year,” said Emily Martin, NWLC Vice President for Workplace Justice. “Women are now typically being paid 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. While a small step forward is better than standing still, over a 40-year career women still stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to the wage gap. And for many women of color, the cost of the lifetime wage gap will still exceed a million dollars. We can’t afford to close this gap one penny at a time.”

Health Insurance and Medicaid Coverage in 2015:

  • Nearly 92 percent of women and girls had health insurance in 2015.
  • The uninsurance rate among women 18-64 dropped by nearly one-third, from 16.9 percent in 2013 to 11.3 percent in 2015.
  • More than 16.8 million women 18-64 relied on Medicaid in 2015, up 3.2 million since the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2013.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, uninsurance among women has dropped by nearly one-third,” said Fatima Goss Graves, NWLC Senior Vice President for Program. “This means that an additional 5.4 million women have health insurance since the law was implemented in 2013. Women’s access to meaningful and affordable health care has been an economic game changer: The birth control benefit alone has saved women more than $1 billion in just one year. The health law plays a pivotal role in bolstering economic security for women and their families.”

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

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For immediate release:  September 13, 2016

Contact:  Maria Patrick (mpatrick@nwlc.org) or 202-588-5180