Before the nation’s economic recession hit, Thea Goines, a single mother of two, didn’t have many financial problems. But since its arrival, she has found it increasingly difficult to provide even the simplest things for her children, such as new clothes and shoes.
“Though others have been through worse, I have truly felt, and am still feeling the effects of the recession,” Goines recently told the AFRO. “In addition, I’ve had to make several cuts to little luxuries for me and my children and I’ve had to apply for public assistance just to make ends meet.”
While Goines’ tribulations can be echoed by many people across the country, a new report by the Center for American Progress and the Women’s Voices Women Vote organization recently found that the economic recession has severely impacted the lives of unmarried women. According to the report, since the arrival of the recession in 2007, all Americans have experienced unemployment, mortgage foreclosures and increased food insecurity. However, unmarried women have it even worse, facing adverse disparities in income, wealth, debt, poverty, unemployment and more.
“The Other Half: Unmarried Women, Economic Well-Being and the Great Recession” found that nearly 47 percent of all women in America are unmarried, divorced, separated, widowed, or never married. While these women comprise nearly a quarter of the country’s total adult population and are responsible for raising 25 percent of all American children under 18, they continue to grapple with disparities.
In addition, these problems are rampant in communities of color where women are more likely to be unmarried. Goines, who has been working to provide for her children since her son’s birth in 2000, got laid off from her job after the recession’s arrival. This forced her to accept a temporary position at a fraction of the salary she was used to making. All of her earnings went back to her children and in turn, her bills started to pile up.
“It’s a miracle that I have been able to maintain,” Goines said. Page Gardner, president of Women’s Voices Women vote and co-author of the study, said understanding the troubles faced by women such as Goines and helping them overcome them is a national responsibility.
“Unmarried women play a vital and growing role in the health of our economy and communities,” Gardner recently told reporters. “It is critical that we understand the challenges faced by unmarried women and ensure they have a voice in the political and policy-making process.”
Both CAP and the WVWV believe the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) curbed the impact of the recession by saving and creating new jobs and increasing social service programs.
In the wake of the ARRA’s success, they believe policymakers should focus on initiatives that will increase unmarried women’s wages, spending potential, reduce their debt and increase their wealth—even as they work to ensure all Americans benefit from economic recovery.
“I honestly believe that it’s a lack of knowledge that is affecting the situation more than anything,” Goines said, speaking of policymakers’ unawareness of the disparities faced by unmarried women. “ there are some who abuse the system, most people are coming to get a leg up on the situation they are facing, not a hand out.”
For more information and to view the full report, visit: http://www.wvwv.org/assets/2010/8/13/The-Other-Half-Report_2010.pdf.