Women's status in N.C. improves but still lags men in most areas

They are more educated, paid less

lbonner@newsobserver.comOctober 11, 2012 

Women have advanced in the workplace over the past 16 years, according to a new report, The Status of Women in North Carolina, but still earn only 83 cents for every dollar a man makes.

“North Carolina is making progress around poverty for women and health care for women and their families,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “We have so much left still to do.”

The summary of the state report on women’s income, health, education and political participation – the first in 16 years – was released Thursday. The N.C. Council for Women, an advocacy agency within the state Department of Administration, commissioned the $90,000 report from The Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C. Wells Fargo and about a half-dozen local agencies helped pay for it.

The report shows regional differences and disparities based on race and nationality. It can be found at www.councilforwomen.nc.gov/. The final report, which will be released in January, will include recommendations for policymakers. Here’s a look at some of the findings.

Economic security, income and child care: In 2010, 17 percent of women 18 and older in North Carolina were poor. That compares with 13 percent of men of the same age. Nationwide, 15 percent of women and 12 percent of men were poor. Many families in the state living below the poverty line do not receive Work First (welfare) benefits or food stamps. Eleven percent of single mothers and 2 percent of single fathers whose low incomes qualify them for cash assistance receive it.

In North Carolina, households headed by single women with children have the lowest median annual income, $20,393, of all family household types.

Child care is too expensive for many families. Average annual fees for full-time care in a center are $9,185 for an infant and $7,774 for a 4-year-old child. That’s more than the average annual cost of tuition and fees on a UNC campus.

Employment, education and earnings: Working women 16 and older are more likely than men the same age to work in managerial or professional occupations, though the rate varies by region.

Overall, women 25 and older have higher levels of education than men the same age. Since 1990, the share of women who have earned at least a college degree has increased, while the share of women who have not completed high school was cut by more than half. But women do not benefit financially from education as much as men. Women with some college or associate degrees earn less than men with only high school diplomas.

Though the gender wage gap has narrowed in the past 20 years, women with full-time, year-round jobs have lower median earnings than men.

Health: More than 1 in 5 women aged 18-64 lack health insurance, a particular problem for immigrants. Only 53 percent of immigrant women have health coverage, while 82 percent of native-born women have health insurance. Nationwide, 65 percent of immigrant women and 57 percent of immigrant men have health insurance.

The teen pregnancy rate decreased from 2000 to 2010. Still, the teen birth rate was higher in North Carolina than the national average in 2009.

Political participation: Women voted at higher rates than men in the 2008 and 2010 elections. They hold more seats in the legislature than they did in 1996.

More than half the holders of statewide elected executive office are women, including Perdue, the labor commissioner, the state treasurer, the secretary of state, the state auditor and the superintendent of public instruction.

Bonner: 919-829-4821

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service