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Poverty among women in the United States

According to the report published by the United States Census Bureau in September 2019, the official poverty rate declined 0.5 percentage points from 12.3% to 11.8% in 2018 which means there are now 1.4 million less poor people in the United States. The poverty rate among the women has also declined according to the report and they are making significant gains in terms of median earnings. However, the wage gap between the two genders which has been receiving a lot of attention remained unchanged from 2017 to 2018 which means that women still tend to earn less than men. In 2018, the gender pay gap remained unchanged as compared to the previous year. Female to male earnings ratio is a metric used to compare the earnings of women with men in the United States economy and how well the women are paid when compared with men. According to the report by Census Bureau, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar that men earn. The 2018 female to male earnings ratio was 0.816 compared to 0.817 in 2017 (statistically not different). This ratio is based on the median earnings of full-time year-round workers. Generally, this ratio does not change a lot annually. 

“The female-to-male earnings ratio compares the median earnings of women working full-time, year round to the median earnings of men working full-time, year-round. The 2018 female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.816, not statistically different from the 2017 ratio of 0.817.”

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2018, US Census Bureau.

However, when compared to 2007, there has been an improvement of at least 4.8% when the ratio stood at 0.778. According to the report, while more women have emerged from poverty still the number of women living under the poverty line in the US is higher compared to men.

How Women’s Earnings Have Increased from 2017 to 2018.

While there has been no significant annual change in this indicator, there is evidence that shows that women have still made significant gains compared to men from 2017 to 2018. For example, consider the total number of people with earnings and how it changed from 2017 to 2018. The total number of people with earnings regardless of work experience grew by 1.2 million from 2017 to 2018. However, while the number of women with earnings increased by 1.1 million, that of men did not show any statistically significant change. The number of year-round full-time workers grew by 2.3 million from 2017 to 2018 and while the number of male full-time year-round workers grew by 700,000 that of female full-time year-round workers grew by 1.6 million.

The poverty rate fell but the number of poor women is still higher than men

The poverty rate for women fell from 2017 to 2018 coming down to 12.9% from 13.6%. In contrast, the poverty rate for men was statistically no different than the previous year at 10.6%.  The poverty rate for women in the 18-64 age group was 12.3% compared to 9% among men in the same age group. In the under 18 age group, the poverty rate among girls in 2018 was 16.2%, statistically the same as the boys in the same age group.

The poverty rate for families with female householders (no spouse present) in 2018 was 24.9%; a decline of 1.3% compared to the previous year. There were 3.7 million such families in 2018 compared to 4 million in 2017.

According to the Census Bureau, the female householder families were the only type of primary families that showed a statistically significant decrease in the poverty rate in the 2017-2018 period. As more people from female householder families found full-time full-year employment in 2018 compared to the previous year (particularly in the black and the Hispanic families), driving higher income levels and fewer adult and children living in poverty in such families, workers in female-householder families worked full-time, year-round at a greater rate in 2018 than 2017.