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Report: KY Gets D-Minus Grade for Women's Poverty, Opportunity

With nearly one in five women living below the poverty line, a report gives Kentucky a D-minus grade for overall lack of economic opportunity. (Greg Stotelmyer)
With nearly one in five women living below the poverty line, a report gives Kentucky a D-minus grade for overall lack of economic opportunity. (Greg Stotelmyer)
January 9, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A higher percentage of Kentucky women face dire economic straits than in most other parts of the country, according to research on the status of women.

The report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research gives Kentucky a D-minus on poverty and opportunity.

The study finds the number of Kentucky women living below the federal poverty level has risen over the last decade, reaching almost 19 percent in 2015.

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."

Kentucky's minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, and the Legislature has repeatedly refused to raise it.

Louisville and Lexington passed their own pay increases, but last fall the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled cities don't have that authority.

Anderson says providing paid sick days and family leave are other ways that would make a big difference to Kentucky 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 workplace, and not dropping out because of that impossible bind."

According to the report, Kentucky women who work full-time, year round, earn 78 cents on the dollar compared with similarly employed men.



Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY