January 3, 2017

New Report Shows Women in Florida are Poorer Now Than in 2004

A story ran in last week’s Miami Herald that many Floridians might have missed while in full holiday mode.  Festive times aren’t conducive to processing bad news, but this article is worth another look, as the news it brought us is not good. It speaks to an area in which we, as a state, should and could do much better.

The title of the story was simple enough: In Florida, women are poorer today than 12 years ago. 2004 was a long time ago, but reports like these show that we’re not making much progress.

The data comes from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s report, The Status of Women in Florida by County:Poverty & Opportunity. It was commissioned by Florida Women’s Funding Alliance, an affinity group of Florida Philanthropic Network, in response to Florida’s continued D+ overall rating on IWPR’s Poverty and Opportunity Index.  The Herald noted that the “researchers used primarily data from the U.S. Census, federal and county agencies, and analyzed four indicators: health insurance coverage, educational achievement, owning business and poverty rates.”

Here are some nuggets from the study as related by the Herald’s Brenda Medina:

  • The number of women 18 and older in Florida living below the poverty line is 15.4 percent (compared to men, for whom the number is 12.2 percent)
  • The number of women and men living below the poverty line in Florida is higher than the national average
  • In Florida, the poorest women are African Americans, followed by Native Americans and then Latinas
  • More than 25 percent of women live below the poverty line in Alachua, DeSoto, Gilchrist, Hamilton and Hardee counties. In Miami-Dade, more than 20 percent of women live in poverty.

The Herald stated “Among the recommendations made by the researchers are to raise the minimum wage and to close the so-called wage gap — when women receive less pay for doing the same jobs as men.”

Florida’s minimum wage, effective yesterday, is $8.05 per hour.  The Institute’s study suggested that “a single adult in Florida should earn about $14.52 an hour (with work benefits) to afford basic needs and save a little. If the person does not have work benefits, he or she needs to earn about $22.56 per hour, according to the indicators.”

That minimum wage increase that just started raised the hourly wage by 5 cents. That’s 5¢.  A nickel. We can do better than that.

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