A higher percentage of Kentucky women face dire economic straits than in most parts of the country, according to research on the status of women. The report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research gives Kentucky a “D-minus” on poverty and opportunity. The study finds the number of Kentucky women living below the federal poverty level has risen over the last decade, reaching almost 19-percent in 2015. Report co-author Julie Anderson says paying women the same as men for comparable work and hours would pull more than half of those women out of poverty, and have a ripple effect on the entire state.
Kentucky’s minimum wage has been seven-dollars-25-cents ($7.25) an hour since 2009, and the Legislature has repeatedly refused to raise it. Louisville and Lexington passed their own pay increases, but last fall the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled cities don’t have that authority.
Anderson says providing paid sick days and family leave is another policy that would make a big difference to Kentucky women, as they typically shoulder the responsibility when family illnesses or emergencies arise.
According to the report, Kentucky women who work full-time, year round, earn 78-cents on the dollar compared with similarly employed men.