A 21st Century Journalism Project

The Disadvantaged Ones

In Defining The Problem on March 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm


As unemployment decreases for women in the United States so has their wages. According to the 2010 National Women’s Law Center Census Data (NWLC) the poverty rate among women climbed to 14.5 percent in 2010 from 13.9 percent in 2009. This is the highest percentage in 17 years. Over 17 million women lived in poverty in 2010 including more than 7.5 million in extreme poverty with an income below half the federal poverty line.

Family poverty rates from 2009.

As of 2012, the poverty line is $22,350 for a family of four.

Women are the most common gender  that make up the “working poor.” The working poor includes individuals who incomes are below the poverty line.

U.S. Census Bureau reports approximately 14 million single parents are here in United States. Single mothers are responsible for raising 21.6 million of the nation’s children. 26 percent of children in the United States are raised in single parent homes.

56 percent of single parents are currently female.

Working poor women bear a number of problems, single parenting is the biggest. This problem alone is  major in the United States as more women are conceiving children.

Women struggle to provide the essential things needed for their family. Single women are at a disadvantage because they have to struggle. In addition, to raising their children on a daily basis with no assistance.

Traditional family units consists of a father and a mother sharing the responsibilities. As social structures have changed it is more common for a parent to raise a child on their own.

As women work to make ends meet they are also at a disadvantage maintaining their job for a number of reasons. Primarily, the most common is low paying jobs. Statistics show that single parents and especially women have a higher rate of poverty. Specifically speaking if they are significantly younger, less educated and with fewer gainful employment. Lower levels of income add to the list of problems with single parenting issues, negatively. According to U.S. Census Bureau 74 percent work of single mom’s work full-time, year round and 18 percent work part-time or part year.

Gender inequality still effective in the United States restrict women from choosing certain jobs. Typical low incomes for job working poor women include fast food, custodian, secretary, and a bus driver.

For all full-time wage and salary workers across the country, women’s median weekly wages were 80.2 percent of men’s last year. On a state basis, District of Columbia, the median weekly wage of full-time women workers is 96.5 percent of that for their male counterparts. Second, California full-time women earn 88.7 percent of what men make. Lastly, Louisiana were among full-time women earning 65 percent of men earnings.

On July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage rose from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. About 20 percent of American adults who have jobs are only making $10.65 an hour or less. Even at 40 hours a week, that amount is still less than the poverty level.


Child care, is used to place children somewhere protected while at work or school. It is traditional that children are taken care of by parents or guardians. In the absence of parents or guardians child care is given as a means to provide for the child.

In order for child care to support working poor families they have to be reliable, good quality  and more importantly affordable. Most women have trouble finding child care services that are flexible to work with their work schedules and meet the needs of children.

The cost of child care varies for a number of factors, how you many children you have and how long they stay at day care. Mothers who have children are working more hours than women without children. In a report from ABC News revealed that in 39 states and Washington, D.C. the average annual day care cost for an infant exceeded the cost of a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college. Another report from 2009  shows that child care fees for two children in a child care center exceed annual median rent and mortgage payments in 18 states.

Working poor women usually have to work long shifts during the week and weekends to pay for child care. Some jobs require women to have an open availability schedules.  Meaning they are available to work at any moments notice. This results in increased costs of child care due to the fluctuation of hours children are spending there. This result in a negative consequence because mothers then have a harder time paying for childcare. It is difficult to manage the budget being spent on child care when the price changes frequently. The child care costs are exceeding the amount of income being made.

According to tomorrowmoney.org “The average single mother spends nearly one-third of her income on child care. This can easily double if you have more than one child that requires care.”

 The Children’s Defense Fund reports that child care often interfere with parents getting or keeping a job. When families receive financial assistance for child care, they are more likely to work. Statistics show that more than 60 percent of children who live in single parent homes do not receive any financial assistance from the child’s father.

According to the NYT, As part of last year’s package of spending measures aimed at stimulating the economy, the Obama administration added $2 billion for subsidized child care programs for 2009 and 2010, on top of the expected $5 billion a year. The administration has proposed a $1.6 billion increase for 2011. But even as this extra money has limited cuts and enabled some states to expand programs, officials acknowledge that it has not kept pace with the need.

Many states are starting to cut back budgets for their state childcare assistance programs. These cuts impact working families significantly and also  reinforces that working poor women have to struggle twice as hard to search for affordable child care services in order to maintain a job.


Working poor families will always worry about money no matter what the state of the economy is in. A 2010 report from the Census Bureau released that 21 million people lived in working poor families. This translates into nearly into 9.6 percent of all American families living below 100 percent poverty.

Poverty rates from 1983 to 2010

The latest data on women in poverty is more serious than most people realize. The number of women facing poverty is rising at a significant level. Just this past year 17 million women were living in poverty compared to 12 million men. And the number doubles for women over 65 compared with men. Single mothers will always be hit the hardest in working poor families as 40% of women are  head family member that enter poverty. In general in 2010, 15.1 million individuals were living in poverty.

Recently, President Barack Obama has brought the nation’s attention to a new federal spending budget that could possibly provide funding programs to assist the work poor. Obama announced that 477 billion dollars would be spent on the younger generation and low-income families at a disadvantage. This is an advantage as it can help move working poor families through the ladders out of poverty.


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