Saturday, February 11, 2017

Over 1 Out Of 6 Women In Texas Lives In Poverty

The Dallas Women's Foundation has just released a report (done by the Center for Public Policy Priorities and Texas Woman's University) on the economic condition of women in Texas. It is rather shocking. It shows that slightly more than 1 out of every 6 women in the state lives in poverty (about 17%).

That's a shameful statistic for the richest nation in the world, and the state that Republicans claim is an "economic miracle". Making this even worse is the fact that most of these women have children, which means those children are also living in poverty. Why is this? Why can't a nation as rich as ours take care of women and children -- insuring that they have a decent standard of living.

There are several reasons why so many women live in poverty:

1. The wage gap is one reason. Women continue to make less than men for equal work. In fact, this is so out of whack that a woman with a high school diploma makes on average less than a man without a HS diploma, and a woman with some college (or an Associate's degree) makes on average less than a man with only a high school diploma (and no college at all).

2. The minimum wage is not a livable wage. This is especially hurtful of women, since 63% of those working for minimum wage are women. Just raising the minimum wage will lift many women out of poverty, but it probably won't happen since the GOP doesn't want it raised (and the new president thinks wages are already too high).

3. Too many women (nearly half of women with families and single women) pay more than 30% of their income for housing -- and many low-wage women pay 50% of their income for housing. This is an onerous burden which leaves little left for food, clothing, transportation, and childcare.

4. Childcare is expensive, and eats up far too big a percentage of a woman's paycheck -- especially those working at or near the minimum wage. Childcare can cost between $7000 and $9000 -- a real burden for someone only making minimum wage (slightly over $15,000). During the campaign, Trump's daughter came up with a plan to help ease the burden of child care -- a tax credit. That might make a nice tax deduction for the rich and middle classes, but does nothing for the women who need it most -- those working at or near the minimum wage. What good does a tax deduction do for someone not making enough to pay taxes?

All of these problems could be fixed. There is no reason why 17% of women should be living in poverty. Unfortunately, both the state and federal governments are in control of Republicans -- and those Republicans act like they don't care. They don't support any of the rational policies that could pull women out of poverty. All they want to do is provide more for the rich (their real constituency).

It would not surprise me if at the end of two or four years of Republican government the percentage of women living in poverty rose significantly above 17%. Problems don't go away if ignored -- they grow.

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