New York women are still out in the (economic) cold

December 20, 2000

ITHACA, N.Y. -- When it comes to women's economic equality and political participation, New York ranks much lower than some might expect in achieving self-sufficiency and influencing public policy, says a new report released by the Washington-based Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) and the Institute for Women and Work (IWW) at Cornell University's New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

The report, "The Status of Women in the States 2000," gives New York state an overall grade of B-minus on its report card for women's economic equality, earnings and employment. Despite an all-time low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent and a booming economy, New York ranks 10th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in employment and earnings for women.

Women in New York state have the seventh highest annual earnings in the nation and are fourth in the nation in their average earnings relative to those of men. Yet, fewer New York women participate in the work force (47 other states have more work force participation, making N.Y. 48th); more live below the poverty line (44 other states have fewer women below the poverty line, making N.Y. 45th); and fewer women have health insurance (37 other states have more women with insurance, making N.Y. 38th).

"The growing income gap is not only between men and women, but also between highly educated, professional women and low-wage earning or no-wage women of color and immigrant women who are struggling just to make ends meet," said Francine Moccio, director of the Institute for Women and Work.

Heidi Hartmann, president and founder of IWPR, added, "Women's poverty rates are 50 percent higher than men's, and the hardest hit women are single moms."

The report details the progress of women in each state relative to men and to national trends. Intended to provide policy-makers at the state level with relevant information necessary to address women's issues, the report establishes baseline measures for the economic, political and social status of women in the state of New York.

Although New York recently elected Hillary Rodham Clinton as its first woman U.S. Senator, the study finds that the state ranks only 38th in the nation for women elected to public office. And New York does poorly compared with other states in terms of women's voter registration and voter turnout.

Ironically, the study further points out that New York has the highest ranking for women's access to institutional resources in politics because the state has a Commission for Women and a bipartisan Legislative Women's Caucus where elected officials hold formal meetings to discuss issues that are critical to women, their families and their work.

"This new information should be a wake-up call for all who advocate and represent the interests of New York women and working people, especially single mothers and low-wage families who need increased family supports from the state, such as dependent care, increased quality child care and paid family leave," said Moccio.

"In light of this economic disparity, the study's findings on the low political participation of New York women, especially among disenfranchised groups such as low wage earners and immigrants, sharply curtails women's ability to leverage power and lobby for public policies that support a higher minimum wage, workers' protections and increased access to unionization."

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, chair of the New York State Assembly's Labor Committee, added: "This study should galvanize working women around policy decisions which impact their lives. Women's issues -- like providing a safe workplace for industrial laundry workers or monitoring wages in sweatshops -- need a concerned electorate."
-end-
The Institute for Women's Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit research organization that works with policy-makers, scholars and advocacy groups to design and disseminate research findings on policy issues affecting women.

Cornell's Institute for Work and Women, based primarily in New York City and with offices at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C., conducts applied research, educational courses and special seminars and colloquia for low-wage women and contracts with various federal, state and private organizations and unions to improve women's economic status in the workplace.

For copies of the report on the status of women, call the IWW, 212-340-2867.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

o For information on the Institute for Women and Work:

http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/extension/institutes/iww/default.html

o For information on the Institute for Women's Policy Research

http://www.iwpr.org/

Cornell University

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