Post-Recession Era Leaves Women Worse Off Than Men: Survey

Mothers, single or married, facing great difficulty providing for families

The Great Recession may be over and a recovery under way, but many Americans, and women and single mothers in particular, are hurting, according to research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research released Monday.

The report of findings from an IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security showed that Americans are resorting to negative measures to make ends meet: not taking themselves or their children to a doctor, not filling medical prescriptions, sharing housing with others, withdrawing money from retirement accounts, resorting to food stamps or, in many instances, simply going hungry.

In the year before the survey, some 16 million Americans (9% of women and 6% of men) went hungry because they could not afford to buy food, and 19.5 million received food stamps. Only one-third of those who went hungry reported using food stamps.

In the recovery, women are having a tougher time than men, though both reported severe financial difficulties. Eighty-four percent of women and 71% of men had trouble paying bills on time, and 75% of women and 49% of men had problems paying rent or making mortgage payments.

The survey found both single and partnered parents providing for their children’s needs only with great difficulty. Thirty-eight percent of single mothers reported problems covering medical costs for themselves or their families, and at 34%, married mothers were not much better off.

On the jobs front, young women have faced disproportionate hardship in entering the labor market. Of those ages 18–34, 50% reported unemployment for at least one month during the two years prior to the survey—twice the rate for men in the same age group.

Precision Opinion administered the IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security to 2,746 adults aged 18 and older between September and November 2010. The sample for the survey was stratified to yield approximately equal numbers of white, black and Hispanic respondents.

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