WASHINGTON, DC— Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released a report today showing the drastic effects of the current economic recession on women. The report, “Taking a Toll: The Effects of Recession on Women,” shows that women are facing new and heightened risk in this uncertain economy.
Chairman Kennedy requested this report just as the Senate is taking up legislation to ensure that women and minorities who face pay discrimination have a fair chance to seek justice. The Senate will take up the legislation next week.
Senator Kennedy released the following statement in connection with the report: “These findings demonstrate the severe and disproportionate impact of this recession on women and their families. We need to act immediately to restore women’s right to fair pay, provide workers with paid sick days, and shore up programs that help workers and families endure hard times.”
Key findings of the report include:
- In the past year, the unemployment rate among adult women workers has gone up more rapidly than for men—rising from 3.8% in March 2007 to 4.6% in March 2008, an increase of 20%, compared with a 17% increase among adult men.
- The downturn has caused women’s wages to fall and this decline is significantly larger than what men have suffered. In 2007, the real median wage for adult women workers dropped 3%; wages for adult male workers dropped by.5% over the same period. Women’s wages are also more volatile than men’s wages, and they face a much higher risk of seeing large drops in income than men do.
- Women are also disproportionately at risk in the current foreclosure crisis, since women are 32% more likely than men to have subprime mortgages.
- Existing pay disparities for women exacerbate the economic strain on women and on households run by women, since women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men
- Women have significantly fewer savings to fall back on in a time of economic hardship. Non-married women have a net worth 48% lower than non-married men, and women are less likely than men to participate in employer-sponsored retirement savings programs.
The full text of the report can be found here.