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NWLC Analysis of 2012 Census Poverty Data

Women’s Poverty Rate Remains Historically High

NWLC’s detailed gender analysis of U.S. Census poverty, income, and health insurance data released on September 17, 2013 found that poverty rates among women, like poverty rates overall, remained at historically high levels last year. Women’s poverty rates were once again substantially above the poverty rates for men. The data also show that income supports such as Food Stamps/SNAP benefits kept millions of Americans out of poverty last year. The wage gap remained unchanged in 2012, with women working full time, year round typically earning 77 cents to every dollar paid to their male counterparts – the same level at which they have remained for a decade.

For more information, see National Snapshot: Poverty Among Women & Families, 2012, and the full report, Insecure & Unequal: Poverty Among Women and Families 2000-2012.  

Data in Detail

Poverty among Women and Families

  • More than one in seven women, nearly 17.8 million, lived in poverty. The poverty rate among women was 14.5 percent in 2012, statistically unchanged from 2011 and the highest rate in two decades. 
  • The poverty rate for men in 2012, 11.0 percent, was lower than for women, and also was statistically unchanged from 2011. Although men's poverty rate in 2012 was higher than in 2007, before the start of the recession, it was lower than women's poverty rate in 2007 — and lower than women's record-low poverty rate (11.5 percent in 2000). 
  • Poverty rates were particularly high for black women (25.1 percent), Hispanic women (24.8 percent), and women who head families (40.9 percent). 
  • More than half (56.1 percent) of poor children lived in female-headed families in 2012. 

Wage Gap

  • Women working full-time, year-round continued to be paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, unchanged from 2011. 
  • Black women working full-time, year-round were typically paid only 64 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. 
  • Hispanic women working full-time, year-round were typically paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.