Female-headed households with related children under age 5 are at high risk: Nearly half (46.9%) are living in poverty.
Poverty Rates: Demographics
Overall, women in Utah live in poverty at a lower rate than the national average: Utah women (12.2%) vs. U.S. women (16%), and census data for 2015 ranks Utah 12th in the nation for the percentage of people living above the poverty line. However, when broken down by specific demographic factors, the poverty rates are notably worse for certain groups. In Utah, minority women are much more likely to live in poverty, as shown here by ethnic group: Black (20.3%), Asian/Pacific Islander (21.3%), “Other” or two or more races (21.3%), Hispanic (25.9%),
and Native American (36.1%). In each one of these specific groups, Utah women are living in poverty at higher percentages than Utah men.
Factors Contributing to Poverty
Many factors contribute to Utah’s gender disparity in poverty rates. For example, education gaps may play a role. Women in Utah are graduating with bachelor’s degrees at a rate almost 10% lower than women in the nation as a whole (49% vs. 58.5%). In addition, there is a gap in the population between the overall education levels for Utah women vs. Utah men, particularly at the bachelor’s degree level. In Utah, only 28% of Utah women hold a bachelor’s degree vs. 33% of Utah men. By contrast, nationally, roughly the same percentage of men and women hold bachelor’s degrees (about 29%). This education gap is significant because it seems to exacerbate our already substantial wage gap. In Utah, at every educational level, men earn more than women who have achieved a higher level of education: men with a high school diploma earn more than women with an associate’s degree, men with a bachelor’s earn more than women with a graduate degree, and so forth. Lower education levels can lead to lower wages and higher rates of poverty.
Efforts to Address Poverty in Utah
Utahans are concerned about poverty in their state. According to a 2016 survey by the Utah Foundation, “Homelessness and Poverty” is the ninth most important issue for Utah voters as a whole.25 Poverty is related to many key factors of overall well being within any state: homelessness, hunger, access to health care, educational success, mental health, and physical safety, among others. Because of these interrelated factors, Utahans recognize the need to reduce poverty rates.
Read the full Snapshot Poverty Among Utah Women