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Extreme poverty on the rise for older women

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An alarming number of women older than the age of 65 joined the ranks of the extreme poor last year, according to a new report by the National Women's Law Center titled "Insecure & Unequal," which analyzed recently released data from the Census Bureau.

"The economic security of older women is getting worse," said Kate Gallagher Robbins, a senior policy analyst at the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C. "We are talking about an entire population of women who are already on the brink and will be pushed further into economic need."

Julie Vogtman, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, which advocates for better opportunities for low-income women and girls, said the growing number of women ending their lives in dire poverty should be of great concern to individuals and policymakers. She said some government programs have helped people in difficult circumstances and the government should continue to fully fund them.

"It says a lot about our priorities as a nation if we have a federal budget that supports programs like food stamps, Social Security and Medicaid that help people who are struggling get back on their feet," she said, adding that now is not the time to "cut those programs when the economy is still weak, unemployment is still high and we see that many Americans have yet to experience an economic recovery."