In Florida, women are poorer and have less access to healthcare and development opportunities than most states in the country, according to a recent poverty report.
The number of women 18 and older in Florida living below the poverty line is 15.4 percent (compared to men, which is 12.2 percent), according to the study, The Status of Women in Florida by County: Poverty & Opportunity, by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. In 2004, the percentage of women below the poverty line was 12.6.
The number of women and men living below the poverty line in Florida is higher than the national average. In the United States, 14.6 percent of women 18 or older and 11.1 percent of men live below the poverty line.
“Poverty, and especially poverty among women and women of color, continues to be a persistent problem” in Florida, states the annual report, published since 2004 and supported by various women and non-profit organizations. The Institute has been publishing a national report on the status of women since 1996.
Poverty, and especially poverty among women and women of color, continues to be a persistent problem.
Report findings in Florida
In the Sunshine State, the poorest women are African Americans, followed by Native Americans and then Latinas, according to the report. The state has improved in two things: more women are getting a college education than 12 years ago, and the number of women entrepreneurs has increased.
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.
The highest poverty figures among women are reported in northern and southern rural areas in Florida. According to the report, 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. This is despite the fact that 40 percent of businesses in the county are owned by women and 63 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 64 have health insurance coverage, compared to 58 percent of men in the same age range. In addition, the number of men and women who have a bachelor’s degree in Miami-Dade is virtually the same, 26 percent of the population, according to the report.
In Miami-Dade, more than 20 percent of women live in poverty.
The poverty rate is determined using standards set by the federal government. Under these standards, an average Miami-Dade family of about four per household earning $24,000 or less per year, lives below the poverty line. The average household income in the county is $43,000 and is below the state average of $45,000 and the national average of almost $52,000, according to figures from the American Community Survey.
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.
The minimum salary in Florida is $8.05 per hour. But according to the study, basic economic security rates suggest 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.
Next year, the state will increase the minimum wage by five cents per hour: In 2017 the minimum wage will be $8.10, to adjust to inflation, according to the state government.
Brenda Medina is on Twitter @BrendaMedinar