Friday, August 7, 2020

The Basic Facts About Women in Poverty

From The Center for American Progress
In the United States, more women than men live in poverty. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, of the 38.1 million people living in poverty in 2018, 56 percent—or 21.4 million—were women.*1 The coronavirus pandemic has put individuals and families at an increased risk of falling into poverty in the United States, as they face greater economic insecurity, due in large part to unprecedented unemployment that has disproportionately affected women.2 Congress’ emergency unemployment assistance during the first few months of the pandemic staved off a predicted spike in the poverty rate; federal economic support must be extended throughout the duration of this fluctuating crisis to prevent an increase in the number of families living in poverty in the long term.3 Moreover, research has shown that the cost and financial burden of medical expenses in the United States pushes millions of families into poverty—a foreboding fact to consider in the midst of a global health pandemic.4 Illustratively, before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded coverage and lowered certain health costs, a leading cause of personal bankruptcy was medical debt, resulting from unexpected or unaffordable medical expenses.5
The following facts present a snapshot of women in poverty, explain why women experience higher rates of poverty, and explore the policy solutions that can best ensure lasting economic security for women and their families.