Study Finds Economic Gains for Women Slowing

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A state-by-state analysis of data on the economic status of women shows limited improvement since 2015, a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds.

Based on women’s earnings and labor force participation, the percentage of employed women in professional or managerial positions, and the gender wage gap, the Employment & Earnings Index in the 2018 edition (7 pages, PDF) of The Status of Women in the States report ranked the District of Columbia (A), Maryland (B+), and Massachusetts (B+) as the best states for women — as they were in 2015 — followed by Connecticut (B+) and New York (B+). In addition, grades for employment and earnings were raised in sixteen states, while they remained unchanged in twenty-four and were lowered in eleven. At the bottom of the rankings were Mississippi (F), West Virginia (F), Idaho (F), Louisiana (D-), and Alabama (D-).

Based on rates of women’s poverty, health insurance coverage, educational attainment, and business ownership, the report’s Poverty & Opportunity Index ranked Maryland (B), the District of Columbia (B), and Massachusetts (B) at the top — although  grades for all three were lower than in 2015 — followed by Connecticut (B-) and Colorado (B-). The worst states for women in terms of poverty and opportunity were Mississippi (F), Louisiana (D-), Kentucky (49), West Virginia (D-), and Arkansas (D-).

"Some states have seen marked improvement in the economic status of women over the last few years," said IWPR president Heidi Hartmann. "But with the economy finally thriving after the Great Recession and long recovery, women in most states have seen little progress on their economic status and some are seeing their status decline. If states really want to see their economies flourish, they will invest in improving the economic status of women, especially women of color, who tend to fare worse in all states."

IWPR also published fifty-one state fact sheets with additional data analysis, including gender wage gaps by race/ethnicity. Meanwhile, The Status of Women in Florida by County: Employment & Earnings (31 pages, PDF), a report published in partnership with the Florida Philanthropic Network and Florida Women’s Funding Alliance, found that the status of women in the Sunshine State had worsened since 2004, with the state ranking thirty-sixth (D+) for employment and earnings nationally and thirty-fourth (D+) for poverty and opportunity.

"While it is disheartening to see that women in Florida have lost ground in workforce participation and fairness, this study provides not only granular baseline data, but also practical policy recommendations for funders, agencies that serve women, policy makers, and even human resource professionals to address these inequities," said FWFA co-chair Paula Liang. "If we are all intentional in our work around women in the workplace, we can turn these numbers around."

“Florida Receives a D+ on Women’s Employment and Earnings, With Wide Disparities by County.” Florida Philanthropic Network Press Release 04/09/2018. “New State Grades on the Economic Status of Women Show Stagnant or Declining Progress in Most States.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research Report 03/28/2018.
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