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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 8, 2010

SINGLE MOTHERS HIDDEN VICTIMS OF FISCAL CRISIS

ALTERNET - Much has been made of the fact that, when examined through the prism of gender, the Great Recession appears to have affected the employment of men far more than that of women. And, taken as a whole, that's true. According to figures by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for men (age 20 and over) stands at 10 percent, while 7.9 percent of women rank among the unemployed. (When the recession began in December 2007, the unemployment rate among men and women was the same: 4.4 percent.)

But . . . you'll find a significant group of women struggling mightily against a brutal economic tide: single women with children. They, the breadwinners of their families, are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than married women who have a spouse present. While this has been true for the last ten years, the effects are amplified in the current economic crisis.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the unemployment rate for married women at 6.1 percent, while that of single women "who maintain families," in the parlance of the BLS, reached a whopping 11.6 percent -- 68 percent higher than when the recession began. Add to that the fact that women, as a whole, earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man brings home, and you find many single women whose situation has gone from difficult to dire.

Indeed, married members of both sexes did better maintaining employment over the course of 2009, according to the BLS's own annual averages of its Household Data monthly surveys: 12 percent of people who had never married were unemployed by the end of the year; those who were widowed, separated or divorced suffered an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, while married people (defined as having a spouse "present"), coasted by with a 5.5 percent rate of unemployment.

The effect on the nation's children has yet to be fully understood: 20 percent of all children today grow up in families headed by a single mother.


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