Our analysis of the newly released data from the American Community Survey found women’s poverty rates during 2015 continue to be substantially above the poverty rates for men; that among women, single women with children and women of color are more likely to live below the poverty threshold; and that poverty rates vary considerably across jurisdictions. The Washington Region faces some of the largest disparities in women’s poverty in the United States.
- Poverty rates have fluctuated with the economy, but no substantial long-term progress has been made across the region overall or in any particular jurisdiction.
- The percent of women and girls living in poverty in our region decreased in every jurisdiction during 2015 except in Montgomery County. Overall, the poverty rate for women and girls in the region went from 10.6 percent in 2014 to 10 percent last year.
- The poverty rate for men and boys in 2015, 8.1 percent, also diminished from 8.3 percent in 2014.
- Women’s poverty rate in the District of Columbia (18.4 percent) is by far the highest poverty rate for women and girls among the jurisdictions that comprise the Washington region.
- Prince George’s County (10.4 percent) and the City of Alexandria (9.7 percent) have the highest poverty rates for women after the District of Columbia. Women living in Fairfax County (6.7 percent) are the least likely to be poor.
- Women’s poverty has been steadily increasing in Montgomery County for most of the past decade. With the exception of 2011, women’s poverty has increased year after year, while men’s poverty has decreased several times since 2010.
- Female-headed households with children reached a poverty rate of 26.6 percent while only 3.2 percent of married-couple families in a comparable group lived below poverty across the region. In the District of Columbia the poverty rate for female-headed households was 40.3 percent. The lowest rate was 14.2 percent in Arlington County.
- Of families with children living in poverty in the Washington Region, 66.8 percent were headed by single women. The jurisdictions with the largest share of poor families headed by single women were the District of Columbia (82.5 percent) and Alexandria (75.4 percent).
- About 15.1 percent of Black women and 14.7 percent of Latinas in the region lived below the poverty level, a considerably higher rate than the 4.9 percent for White, non-Hispanic women.
- The District of Columbia has the largest concentration of Black women in poverty (27.9 percent) while Prince George’s County has the largest concentration of White (7.8 percent) and Latina women in poverty (19.7 percent).
The Women’s Foundation is committed to building pathways out of poverty for women and girls across our region. As we work to achieve our mission, we recognize the value of having the most updated data on the status of women and girls in our community at our fingertips. We constantly analyze and disaggregate survey data to shed light on the issues that impact the program areas we direct our grant investments. We hope this knowledge becomes a valuable resource to our Grantee Partners and organizations that share our mission to help support a woman’s journey to economic security.