The 2011 Community Voices for the Economy survey of 1,515 adults nationwide was conducted from March 15-24, 2011. It revisited key questions from a January 2010 survey.
“Last year Americans, and especially women, said they were profoundly affected by the recession,” says Anika Rahman, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “This year, the impact continues virtually unabated, and in some cases is far worse, especially for low-income women and women of color. The so-called economic recovery is not reaching women or others in need—not by a long stretch.”
In a key indicator of economic security, the percentage of Americans who report living paycheck to paycheck all or most of the time was up five points over 2010 to 49 percent. But the increase among low-income women is especially staggering: 77 percent report living paycheck to paycheck, a 17-point jump from last year. Other highlights include:
- Seventy-one percent of women and 65 percent of men say the economic downturn had some or a great deal of impact on their families.
- Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) remain concerned that they or someone in their household could be out of a job in the next 12 months.
- Low-income women continue to feel the greatest impact from the downturn, with 80 percent saying it has had some or a great deal of impact compared with 73 percent of low-income men. Other groups experiencing a particularly strong impact are: Latinas (74 percent); single mothers (73 percent); and women without a college degree (74 percent).
“In today’s economic and political climate, women are being dealt a triple blow,” says Anika Rahman. “Indeed, what was once termed a ‘mancession’ is now a ‘womancession.’ Women are losing jobs faster than men because of drastic cuts in areas like education and health care where they make up the majority of the workforce. As the majority of state and local public-sector workers, women are affected most by attacks on public-sector unions. And women suffer most from cuts to social services because they’re more likely to be poor and care for children and the elderly.”
In a particularly notable finding, the survey revealed that women—and a robust majority of the American public—want the government to take a stronger role in fixing the economy and creating jobs, even if it means increasing the deficit in the short-term. In fact, a significant majority of Americans are concerned that deficit cuts will come at the expense of families and children.
“While people may support deficit-reduction in the abstract, our poll demonstrates that they are not willing to sacrifice programs that help families survive,” says Rahman. “For all of its deficit-cutting frenzy, and the lengths it goes to tout a rather superficial recovery, Washington is clearly out of touch with people’s day-to-day lives. Real Americans—both women and men—are hurting. And current policy flies in the face of what they say they really need: jobs and services that will spur recovery and support families along the way.
“Our political leaders must quickly reprioritize, stop the reckless gutting of the budget in the name of deficit-reduction, and create jobs that will enable women, in particular, to recover,” continues Rahman. “If women cannot move forward, then our economy cannot move forward. And if our economy cannot move forward, neither can our nation. Certainly, with the situation as dire as Americans tell us it is, wasting one more second is something none of us can afford.”