New York women faring worse economically: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Women in New York state face tougher economic conditions than they did two decades ago and are more likely to live in poverty than the U.S. average, according to a study released on Thursday.

A woman walks across a street in New York in a file photo. REUTERS/Russell Boyce

The report, written by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in conjunction with the New York Women’s Foundation, paints a troubling picture for a state that is home to the financial capital of the world’s richest nation.

Its release comes at a time when the divide between rich and poor has vaulted to national prominence during a U.S. presidential election year, while the economy is struggling amid the worst housing slump since the Depression.

“Our report underscores how the lower economic status of women compared with men makes women and especially women of color particularly vulnerable to economic downturns like the one we’re currently experiencing,” Heidi Hartmann president of the institute for Women’s Policy Research, told a conference call with journalists.

The study was not entirely bad news for women in New York, who do better by some measures than their nationwide peers.

Still, women among minorities tended to do worse compared with their peers in the state, though this disparity was less pronounced in some areas of the study than elsewhere in the country.

“While the report finds substantial potential for women’s economic progress, it also depicts a stark and alarming portrait of poverty in a wealthy society, particularly for women of color,” the New York Women’s Foundation said in a statement accompanying the study.

The report is based largely on the latest available data from official government sources but also cites the work of other researchers throughout. It can be found at


It said New York ranked 15th in the nation in its composite index of women’s employment and earnings. It was 16th on its measure of women’s social and economic autonomy.

This leaves New York solidly in the top third of all states. New York also ranked eighth for the proportion of women-owned business and 10th in college education for women.

But these numbers are cold comfort for lower-income women struggling to make ends meet in parts of the state that are notoriously expensive, such as New York City, while income disparities are growing by some measures.

The weak state of the U.S. economy, coupled with soaring costs for food and energy, would only add to the woes of women on the lower rungs of the income ladder.

“Such deep disparity has serious implications for the economic status of those who call New York state home, particularly given what it takes for those families to make ends meet in this relatively high-cost state,” the report said.

Women comprise just over half of the nearly 19 million people of New York state, which is the nation’s third biggest state economy. Women in New York are more likely to live in poverty than their national counterparts, at 15.2 percent compared with 12.7 percent for the United States as a whole, the study said.

This leaves New York a lowly 40th in the nation for women above poverty, better than a decade ago but worse than its rank of 30th in 1989, the baseline year for much of the study.

Women’s median annual earnings, adjusted for inflation, have stagnated over this period, it said. Their earnings also amount to just 78.4 percent of men’s.

Erica Williams, a study director at IWPR and author of the report, added: “Women in New York state are at a real earnings disadvantage relative to men at both the high and low end of the pay scale, with little exception.”

Reporting by Burton Frierson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis