41 Percent of U.S. Women Face Poverty

Worried Woman

With the U.S. Census Bureau having reported a stable 15 percent rate of overall poverty in the U.S., the Washington advocacy group, Wider Opportunities for Women, suggests a much different outlook on the ways in which poverty affects individuals around the United States, particularly women. Having founded this statistically driven gender gap, the group says 41 percent of all U.S. women face a degree of poverty. Often just a layoff or illness away from facing economic struggles, the group says this financial insecurity has increased since 2008.

Statistically, women in America are more likely to be poor than men in all racial and ethnic backgrounds. With over 37 million people living in poverty, over half of them are adult single women. Surprisingly so, women in the U.S. are further behind in comparison to women in other areas of the world. This could be all connected to the gender wage gap, with women earning less money than their male counterparts, and the often expensive responsibility of raising children.

In a report entitled Living Below the Line: Economic Insecurity and America’s Families, lead authors Shawn McMahon and Jessica Horning found that 45 percent of American families live on incomes that fail to provide the basic economic security required to support their basic needs. In just four years, the overall financial insecurity rate rose from 38 percent to 45 percent with an increase in poverty of White children and unmarried couples. Children of color were also found at risk of economic security with more than three-quarters of Black children and three-quarters of Hispanic children facing poverty in their households.

As 41 percent of U.S. women face poverty, the U.S. census found little changes between genders since 2002. Even with women working full-time, the calculated minimum salary needed to maintain financial security was $30,000, which is double the average full-time employee earns. “It’s clear that this problem is not going to fix itself,” said CEO, Linda D. Hallman who urges those in Congress and the Obama administration to seek strategies to address this gender gap problem.

Even with these alarming poverty statistics, little is to be said about the 85 percent of the U.S. population living above the poverty line, whom, “Live on the edge and are chronically at risk of financial crisis,” said the report. Taking into consideration the workers of America who struggle to meet health, housing, food, child care and various requirements needed for stability, the report urges that studies look into other areas of those not only in poverty, but at risk, having found that one in ten households with two full-time workers were found to lack the earnings necessary for security, while one in five households headed by someone with a four-year degree faced economic insecurity.

The report goes on to note that half of all American’s could lack overall security incomes by 2014, and with 41 percent of U.S. women facing poverty compared to 36 percent of men, this gender gap could increase and provide further problems for U.S. families struggling to make ends meet.

Written by Annie Elizabeth Martin

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