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Women's Poverty Soared in 2009

The Census Bureau just released poverty data for 2009. As you might have guessed, it’s not a pretty picture: the overall poverty rate rose to 14.3 percent in the second full year of the recession, up from 13.2 percent in 2008. But here’s what the Census didn’t talk about during its press conference this morning:

  • Poverty among women—already much higher than poverty among men—climbed to 13.9 percent in 2009, the highest rate in 15 years and the largest single year increase since 1980.  A 13.9 percent poverty rate means 16.4 million women were living in poverty in 2009, 1.2 million more than in 2008 (when the women’s poverty rate was 13 percent).  And more than 40 percent of these women (almost 7 million) lived in extreme poverty, with incomes less than half of the federal poverty level. 
  • Poverty rates were even higher for women of color—24.6 percent for African-American women, and 23.8 percent for Latinas.  
  • But wait, it gets worse: the poverty rate for single moms rose to 38.5 percent (up from 37.2 percent in 2008). 
  • The child poverty rate – already high at 19 percent in 2008—jumped to 20.7 percent last year, meaning more than one in five children was living in poverty.  More than half of poor children lived in female-headed families in 2009.

More to come as we continue to analyze the new Census data. And check out NWLC’s other posts on what happened to health insurance coverage and the wage gap!

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