Report: Florida Women Worse Off Than Decade Ago
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – More Florida women are starting the new year in dire economic straits than in most parts of the country, according to new report on the status of women.
The study from the Institute for Women's Policy Research says the number of Florida women living below the federal poverty level has risen almost 3 percent since 2004, to 15.4 percent – and the institute gives Florida a grade of D-plus.
Report co-author Julie Anderson says paying women the same as men for comparable work and hours would pull more than half of those women out of poverty, and have a ripple effect on the entire state.
"So, the wage gap is obviously a drain on individual women, but a huge drain on the state economy, and public assistance programs,” she states. “And so that's a big, big policy lever that would have a huge impact."
While Florida's minimum wage increased by a nickel this week to $8.10 per hour, the study found a single adult in the state would need to earn about $14.52 per hour to afford basic needs.
Anderson says providing paid sick days and family leave are other benefits that would make a big difference to Florida women, as women typically shoulder the responsibility when family illnesses or emergencies arise.
"It's women who will back out of the labor force, and that's very, very difficult to recover from,” she explains. “But paid sick days and paid family leave will support families in keeping multiple earners in the workforce and not dropping out because of that impossible bind.”
Anderson says the research did find two areas where Florida has made progress in recent years – more women in the state are getting a college education, and the number of female owned businesses is on the rise.