A new Briefing Paper, The Female Face of Poverty and Economic Insecurity: The Impact of the Recession in Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh MSA, produced by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania found that more than four out of ten families headed by single mothers in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), and more than one in three in Pennsylvania, live in poverty. Single mothers have been impacted especially hard by the recession: the rate of unemployment for women who maintain households in Pennsylvania has more than doubled between 2007 and 2009, rising from 5.0 percent to 11.1 percent, over twice the rate for married men.
While employment is not a guaranteed route out of poverty for single mothers, it is a beginning. On average, women in Pittsburgh MSA earn only 74.6 percent what men earn, and this ratio worsens for women of color (64.2 percent for African American women and 65.6 percent for Latina women). The gender wage gap in both Pittsburgh MSA and Pennsylvania is worse than the national gender wage gap (77.1). Poverty, unemployment, lack of affordable and accessible child care, and the gender wage gap put female-headed households with children at a severe economic disadvantage.
The Briefing Paper provides recommendations that would increase economic security for working families in Pennsylvania without requiring high levels of new investment from the state. Increasing investments from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into job opportunities especially for women who head households while also training employers on equal employment opportunity law enforcement to protect women’s rights on the job are federal solutions that would not place a significant burden on the state. Additionally, expanding family-friendly workplaces by incorporating paid sick and family leave and better access to child care will help ensure that women gain access to higher paying, more flexible jobs that allow women to meet their family responsibilities while providing a stable income. The Female Face of Poverty report asserts that removing barriers to economic security faced by women will help to alleviate poverty in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania as a whole, and provide a better economic future for women and families.
Read more here: www.iwpr.org/pdf/R345FemaleFacePA.pdf
View the report online: www.iwpr.org/pdf/R345PApoverty.pdf
Watch the video from the press conference: http://cmsmedia.state.pa.us/treasury/archives/021810/archive.asp