Thursday, January 15, 2009

Using the Economic stimulus to help women in poverty

A story in Women's E- News this morning to a US Congress women who used to live in poverty. Wisconsin Democrat Gwen Moore hopes to include some measures that will help women in poverty in the upcoming round of economic stimulus talks.

The new Congress and President want to pass another economic stimulus package that will help infrastructure and provide jobs in the US. Moore would like to see some money used for women on welfare, and to provide tax breaks to those women while they try to get an education.

The article explains some on the burdens that women face here in the states, writer Allison Stevens helps to detail them.

Poor women face particularly hard times during periods of economic downturn, Moore said. Nowhere is that more evident than in urban areas like her home town of Milwaukee, one of the poorer cities in the country.

Often the last hired and first fired, women have less money and face longer periods without regular income. If they do have a job they tend to make less than men, have fewer benefits or have part-time positions. Topping it off, many of the jobs typically held by women are not covered by unemployment insurance.

Women are also more likely to leave the work force to shoulder caregiving responsibilities for family members, and earn less than men in similar jobs. Women also save less money and have smaller pensions or retirement accounts.

And even though they have slightly better credit scores than men, women have a disproportionate share of the high-priced "subprime" loans, putting them at higher risk of foreclosure, according to a 2006 report by Allen Fishbein, a scholar at the Consumer Federation of America, a think tank and lobby in Washington, D.C.

Financial problems are even more acute for single women and women of color.

"When you compound those problems, you see that women are just destined to be poor," Moore said.

And yet, the government shredded the safety net for poor women when it overhauled the welfare system in 1996, she notes.

That year, President Bill Clinton teamed up with a Republican Congress to enact the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, a law that tied welfare payments to behavior--including requiring recipients to engage in work-related activities--rather than need. The law was reauthorized in 2004.

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