UTAH (ABC4) – Although poverty numbers for women living in Utah have improved since 2016, a new research study carried out by Utah State University’s Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP), in cooperation with USU Extension, indicates that progress is still needed.

Numbers from 2016 showed that 49.6% of Utah women-led households with related children under age five were living in poverty. That number has since dropped to 36.4% over the past five years. 

In regards to Utah as a whole, the overall poverty rate has decreased 2.4% since 2016. However, more than a third (36.4%) of Utahns still live in poverty. 

Although Utah experiences a lower rate of poverty compared to that of the national average (8.9% in Utah vs. 12.3% nationwide), more of the state’s women continue to live in poverty than men (9.6% of Utah women vs. 8.2% of Utah men).

“Many factors influence poverty among Utah women,” said Susan Madsen, founding director of the UWLP and one of four report authors. “For example, the gender wage gap is one of the highest in the nation, and women are more likely to work minimum-wage and part-time jobs with no benefits. Additionally, Utah women within certain demographics, including racial groups, are even more likely to experience poverty.”

Fortunately, women in Utah are lodged in the state ranked with the second-lowest poverty rate in the nation. Exponential growth was seen in this area when compared to Utah’s rank of 12th place in 2016. 

One of the demographics noted to be concerning was that an overall 19.2% of Utah women who are the head of their household are living in poverty. 

Assistant professor of psychology at Brigham Young University and lead author for the report, Dawn-Marie G. Wood explained how poverty is linked to many interrelated aspects of overall well-being, and how Utahns have begun to recognize the need to reduce poverty rates among those who struggle on a day-to-day basis.

“State leaders can work together with community organizations to make measurable differences,” she said. “Collaborative efforts from Utahns working from homes, schools, and businesses can also help to address gender disparities in poverty. Ultimately, decreasing poverty rates among Utah women will benefit families, positively impact children’s futures, and strengthen the influence of women in the state.”

To check out the full report, click here.