Chart of the Day: 60 percent of single women can’t afford basic needs

The Census Bureau released new data on poverty in the US yesterday, and the National Women’s Law Center has been crunching the numbers to see how things are looking for women.

It’s not great: Since 2011, the poverty rate among women has been at its highest point in two decades, and that didn’t change last year. Over 14 percent of women were in poverty, compared to 11 percent of men. And the rates for Black and Hispanic women were waaaay higher, at about 25 percent. The wage gender gap held steady too: It’s still 77 to the dollar, as it’s been for the last decade.

And that’s just looking at the official poverty numbers. The group Wider Opportunities for Women released a report on the “economic insecurity rate,” which measures if you’re unable to meet daily needs–things like housing, food, transportation–and save for emergencies and retirement. So the economically insecure includes not only those folks currently living in poverty but also those just one illness, layoff, or perhaps unintended pregnancy away from it. Turns out that’s nearly half the country. Fully 45 percent of Americans live on incomes that fail to provide basic economic security.

And women are more likely to be economically insecure than men–particularly single women and most especially single mothers. Seventy percent of single mothers working full time–including 77 percent of Black single mothers and 83 percent of Hispanic single mothers–do not earn economic security wages, compared to 45 percent of single fathers. Here’s a chart showing the breakdown by race for single adults:

economic insecurity chart by race and gender

Check out the rest of the report here.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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