Where South Carolina ranks in the U.S.
42nd in poverty among all women.
28th in poverty among black women.
41st in poverty among female-headed families.
40th (tie) in poverty among women 65 and older.
44th in poverty among children.
Insecure and Unequal: Poverty and Income Among Women and Families, 2000-2012, from the National Women’s Law Center
Women are more likely than men to have incomes below the poverty line, and almost half of South Carolina’s families headed by a single woman are poor.
Women who worked full time during 2012 were paid about 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts — representing an annual income difference of $11,608.
Those are just a few facts contained in the report, “Insecure & Unequal. Poverty and Income Among Women and Families 2000-2012,” done by the National Women’s Law Center.
The figures did not surprise those in South Carolina grappling with the problem, such as Sue Berkowitz, director of the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center.
“As a whole, poverty in South Carolina has risen,” she said. “It’s not surprising that for women it is even worse. The median income has declined for our state. Women historically have made less for the same jobs as men.”
Bett Williams, director of communications for the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, said the recession hit the state hard, “and it is going to be a tough road out for kids and women.”
In South Carolina, 47 percent of female-headed families fall below the poverty line, compared to 41 percent nationwide. Only nine states had higher rates in this category.
“The disturbing stuff to us is when you look at the number of children living in single-parent families. In just a year, that has increased by 4 percent,” Willliams said. “When you look at women who are head of those households and they’re getting paid less money, it puts even more children at that disadvantage.”
Williams said creating jobs is part of the answer. It’s also important that children go to school where community expectations are high.
Berkowitz said part of the problem is that policymakers are cutting supportive services such as child care and food assistance.
“Until we put resources into education, help our families who work so hard by funding supportive services, affordable housing and developing transportation, I don’t see much change for our state,” she added.
Williams said she is seeing encouraging signs, including fewer teenagers abusing alcohol and drugs and fewer babies being born at low birth weights — but that will not necessarily move the needle on the poverty rate.
“There’s nobody out there saying women make enough money,” she said. “The reality is both women and men in our state don’t make enough per-capita income. We’re just a poor state and the tide has got to turn.”
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.