PRESS RELEASE-Latest Poverty Data Highlights Critical Need to Preserve and Strengthen the Social Safety Net

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September 17, 2013

Poverty Remains High.  Gender Poverty Gap Persists.

Tim Casey, Director, Women & Poverty Program, Legal Momentum, has analyzed the Census Bureau’s annual poverty report which was released today and has found that the significant gender poverty gap continues.

The poverty report for 2012 released today by the Census Bureau indicates that the poverty rate was 15.0% in 2012, the same as in 2011, but well above the 12.3%  rate in 2006, the year prior to the beginning of the ‘Great Recession.’  The 15%  rate was the fourth highest in the past 45 years.  The 40.9% poverty rate for single mother families was tied for the highest since 1997.  The number of poor people, 46.5 million, was the highest ever.

Adult women had a higher poverty rate than adult men in 2012 as they have had in every year since official poverty measurement began in the 1960s.  The poverty rate for women was 14.5% compared to 11.0% for men.  Women were 31% more likely to be poor than men, a decrease from the 34% gender poverty gap in 2010.  Legal Momentum today issued a report detailing the disparities, Women’s Poverty in the United States, 2012 - Poverty Rate Remains High, Gender Poverty Gap Persists.

Legal Momentum President Elizabeth Grayer states:  “The Census data highlight the serious hardship facing many American families in the current economic crisis.  The data indicate a high poverty rate and a continuing gender poverty gap in the United States – facts that underscore the need for a social safety net that is accessible and adequate.  Congress must reject the proposals for cuts in Food Stamps as those cuts would increase hunger and hardship.  And it is time for Congress to enact sorely needed improvements in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program that would raise sub-poverty benefit levels and reduce the barriers that prevent eligible families from accessing benefits.

About Legal Momentum

Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit