The Well-Being of Women in Utah

YWCA Utah’s vision is that all Utah women are thriving and leading the lives they choose, with their strength benefiting their families, communities, and the state as a whole. YWCA Utah and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) have partnered to publish annual fact sheets on the well-being of women in Utah as part of IWPR’s Status of Women in the States project. We are proud to provide a reliable resource, with particular focus on the intersection of race and ethnicity with gender, and to encourage further exploration, community collaboration, and policy change benefiting the entire state.

This fact sheet builds upon the briefing paper published in 2014 by IWPR and YWCA Utah, The Well-Being of Women in Utah: An Overview as well as IWPR’s Status of Women in the States 2015, and is the second fact sheet in the annual series The Well-Being of Women in Utah. The 2019 fact sheet compares indicators of women’s well-being to the same indicators from the 2015 report, where available, and tracks trends in Utah women’s well-being in key dimensions of their lives.

Data Highlights

The percentage of women in Utah who work outside the home continues to increase, now slightly surpassing the rate of women’s labor market participation in the country as a whole. The percentage of women working part-time in Utah is still the highest in the nation. Business ownership and representation in professional and managerial positions among Utah women are also increasing, more Utah women now live above the poverty line, and women in Utah have made great strides in education attainment; however, the progress in these areas is markedly different when race and ethnicity are taken into account. For example, women of color participate in the labor market at higher rates than white women in Utah, but have lower earnings. Among full-time year-round workers, white women earn significantly more than women from all other racial and ethnic groups, and overall earnings for all Utah women have not yet returned to their 2015 level after a backward slide highlighted in last year’s fact sheet. Older women also continue to be highly dependent on Social Security for economic security later in life, with a higher proportion of women of color relying entirely on Social Security for their income than white women.

Women in Utah are more likely to have health insurance coverage than in previous years; however, there has been a lack of progress in other key indicators on their physical and psychological well-being. The likelihood of being covered by health insurance also varies by race and ethnicity, with Native American women having the lowest rate of coverage. New data on the prevalence of violence is not available, so this fact sheet shows the same rate as last year of one in three Utah women who experiences violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime. Information has been included this year, though, indicating that for nearly seven percent of these women, victimization first occurred before the age of 18. Unfortunately, the downward trend regarding poor mental health and suicide among Utah women continues, and this year’s fact sheet includes new data showing a rate of pregnancy-related mortality in Utah that exceeds the national average.

Important strides are being made by Utah women in political participation and representation. The 2019 report shows increases in the percentage of women who both registered to vote and voted. Women’s representation in the Utah Legislature also reached a record high in 2019, although gains were limited to the House of Representatives. Women of color remain far less represented among elected officials, relative to their share of the population, than white women.

Policy Implications

The Well-Being of Women in Utah series presents a data profile of Utah women using key indicators of economic status, health and well-being, and political leadership and representation. Women’s lives are complex, varied, and difficult to capture in any data set. By presenting consistent information about Utah women over time, and with a particular spotlight on the way women of color in Utah experience additional barriers to progress, YWCA Utah hopes to create shared understanding and move statewide policy forward in ways that help all Utahns thrive. Whether we aim to create fair economic policy that helps all families prosper, to prevent violence in our families and communities, or to explore ways for all Utah women and families to find and afford physical and mental healthcare when they need it, it is critical to begin with reliable information about various aspects of Utah women’s lives and the issues most significantly impacting them. The 2019 fact sheet offers this starting point from which we can work together to explore shared values and create a more equitable state for all Utahns.