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The Well-Being of Women in Utah

The YWCA Utah began the nonpartisan Utah Women’s Well-Being Initiative in May 2013 to respond more effectively to persistent challenges Utah women face. The purpose of the initiative is to strengthen the well-being of Utah women across important dimensions of their lives through research, education, collaboration, and public policy – so that women flourish, their families and communities thrive, and Utah prospers. The YWCA’s first contribution, in collaboration with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C. and a Utah Advisory Committee, is the research briefing Women’s Well-Being in Utah: An Overview, completed in March 2014. Click here to access the full briefing.

 

Key findings:

 

Utah Women and Work: Strong Labor Force Participation, Large Gender Wage Gap

  • Utah has a higher share of women 16 and older in the workforce than the nation overall (61.6% compared with 58.8%), and ranks 17th in the nation. 
  • Utah women’s median annual earnings for full-time, year-round work are lower than women nationwide, while men’s are higher than in the U.S. overall—resulting in a larger gender wage gap in Utah (69%, ranking Utah 47th among all states and D.C.).
  • Women continue to earn less than men even if they have achieved higher educational levels. 

 

Education: Completing College is Key to Utah Women’s Well-Being

  • Women with higher levels of education consistently earn more than women with lower levels, and are less likely to live in poverty.
  • Women in Utah are less likely than men to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The 4.6% difference at this level of education represents the largest gender gap among all the states. 
  • The graduation rate for women at public four-year institutions is 49%, which is nearly 10% lower than the rate for women nationwide (58.5%). Nearly one in three Utah women 25 and older (28.7%) has some college education but no degree.

 

Economic Security: Poverty Rates Lower for Utah Women than U.S. Women Overall, But Single Moms and Women of Color Disproportionately at Risk

  • In Utah in 2012, 12.6% of all women had incomes below the federal poverty line. An additional 7.3% of women had family incomes between 100% and 138% of the poverty line. 
  • In 2010 – 2012, nearly four in ten families in Utah headed by single women with children were poor (37.2%). 

 

Health: Personal Safety and Mental Health Issues Are Concerns for Many Utah Women

  • More than one-third (36.9%) of Utah women 18 and older have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, a slightly higher rate than for women in the US overall (35.6%).
  • The suicide rate for Utah women is the ninth highest female suicide rate among all states.
  • 17.6% of Utah women between 18 and 64 lack health insurance coverage.

 

Political Leadership and Participation: Utah Women More Likely than Men to Vote, but Women’s Representation in Government is Low

  • Women held 16.3% of seats in the 2014 Legislature. This ranks Utah 45th among 50 states and D.C.
  • No Utah woman holds a seat in Congress.

 

Race and Ethnicity: Utah Women Face Disparities

  • Median earnings: Hispanic women had the lowest earnings and non-Hispanic white women the highest, followed by non-Hispanic minority women.
  • Educational levels: The share of Hispanic women with a bachelor’s degree or higher was less than half the shares of all other minority groups combined and non-Hispanic white women.
  • Poverty rates: Hispanic women were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic white women to be poor.
  • Rates of health insurance coverage45.3% of Hispanic women had health insurance coverage, compared with 21.8% of non-Hispanic minority women and 13.3% of non-Hispanic white women.
  • Political leadership: Of the 17 legislative seats held by women, three are held by Hispanic women and 14 by white, non-Hispanic women. No women from other non-Hispanic groups hold legislative office.

 

Resources for Further Reading and Research