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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Report: Louisiana one of nation's worst states for black women

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 11:44 AM

click to enlarge IMAGES MONEY / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0
  • IMAGES MONEY / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0

A new report from the nonpartisan Institute for Women's Policy Research reveals extremely troubling data about the economic and social challenges facing black women here in Louisiana.

The report, which was compiled with the National Domestic Worker's Alliance, studied factors like political participation, employment, income and family structure to create a snapshot of the state of black women the U.S. The report's findings are genuinely disturbing: it finds black women concentrated in lower-paying jobs (even relative to their academic achievement), being paid less than white women and men in similar occupations and having more limited access to health insurance, often while acting as their family's primary breadwinner.

"Black women continue to experience structural barriers to progress that have roots in the nation’s legacy of racial and gender discrimination and exploitation," the report's authors explain. "A shifting political landscape has put Black women even more at risk for disenfranchisement and marginalization."

The state-by-state analysis reveals black women in Louisiana as experiencing some of the nation's most difficult circumstances. Again and again, the report cites Louisiana, often with one or two other states, as the most perilous place to be a black woman. Among its key findings:
  • Black women in Louisiana (and Mississippi) make less money that anywhere else in the country. In 2014, their median annual earnings were just $25,000. The median income for women nationwide was $38,000.

  • Louisiana, Massachusetts and Minnesota have the nation's highest percentages of black women employees in service occupations. Just 28.3 percent of black women in Louisiana worked in (better-paid) managerial or professional occupations.

  • In 2014, one in three black women in Louisiana (31.3 percent) lived below the poverty line.

  • In Louisiana, fewer black women were covered by health insurance than in any other state (72.3 percent of the population had insurance). (This report was compiled using data from 2014, before Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded Medicaid coverage related to the Affordable Care Act — it's possible this statistic has been affected, for the better, by that expansion.)
The report does note that Louisiana is the country's fourth-best state for black women business owners; a bright spot in an otherwise-dismal accounting.

But it's clear the needs of black women as a population need to be championed by lawmakers — even though black women in Louisiana also have the nation's largest political representation gap relative to their proportion of the population, with no women of color (or women at all, actually) serving at the national level.

An executive summary of the report, including conclusions and recommendations, is available online.

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