A new report from the nonpartisan Institute for Women’s Policy Research reveals troubling data about the economic and social challenges Black women face in Louisiana.
The report studied factors like political participation, employment, income, and family structure. 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. A shifting political landscape has put Black women even more at risk for disenfranchisement and marginalization,” the report states.
The state-by-state analysis reveals Black women in Louisiana as experiencing some of the nation’s most difficult circumstances. The report cites Louisiana as the most perilous place to be a Black woman. Among its key findings:
Black women in Louisiana (and Mississippi) make less money than anywhere else in the country. In 2014, their median annual earnings were just $25,000. The median income for women nationwide was $38,000. Only 28.3 percent of Black women in Louisiana worked in 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.)
According to Gambit magazine, “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.”
The report was compiled with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance An executive summary of the report, including conclusions and recommendations, is online at www.domesticworkers.org.