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The Land of (Unequal) Opportunity

44

The weather changed literally overnight.  Yesterday it was shorts and sunglasses.  Today it’s socks and sweaters, and some serious statistics about what mothers are facing as they try to raise their kids and take care of their families.

The latest poverty numbers from the US Census Bureau show what an uneven playing field we have in the US. A US woman is 29% more likely to find herself living in poverty than a US man.  The poverty rate for single mother families has jumped to over 42%. Of all households with just one parent, 85% are headed by mothers. And single mothers, far more than fathers, are likely to be receiving cash assistance from our national welfare program for families with children.  Even so, all the families that do need it don’t receive it, and those that do receive it find it inadequate.

While the recession has been hard on everyone, men are recovering a larger share of jobs than women.  The gender job gap has been growing as more men get re-hired.   The characterization of the downward spiral as a “mancession” has now flipped itself upside down.  It’s likely that women’s employment will stay flat longer, and recover more slowly, than men’s.

Health insurance coverage continues to slip through the fingers of an increasing number of women.  The latest data for 2010 shows that almost 20% of women under 65 have no health insurance.  This is an increase over preceding years.

I don’t believe these numbers are the result of women making different choices, or seeking different lifestyles, than men.  Taken as a whole, they suggest that women get paid less when they work, work less  than they would like to, care for children more,  and get less health care for themselves and their kids.  These things aren’t just “the way it is”.  They are the way they are because of beliefs and values we have embedded in our society about the importance of raising children, the status of women, the role of government, and who deserves good health care and a decent job.  At the moment, mothers apparently don’t qualify.

Here’s a handful of short pieces commenting on the census data serving as the subject of this post.

IWPR on job gap between men and women

National Women’s Law Center summary

Legal Momentum’s report on single mother poverty

Legal Momentum’s stats on gender and poverty

‘Til next time,

Your (Wo)Man in Washington

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