The Times-Picayune has a story about a study (pdf) from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research which shows that, as bad as everybody has it in New Orleans, women have it that much worse:
When it comes to economic opportunity in post-Katrina New Orleans, women, particularly African-American women, have been largely ignored, according to a report on the local labor market released Friday.
Because of the acute shortage of affordable housing across the flood-ravaged Gulf Coast, the study also found that few single-mother families have been able to return.
According to Avis Jones-DeWeever, the institute’s director of poverty, education and social justice, the storm made an already-bad situation worse for the women of New Orleans.
“Research suggests that long before Katrina, women were living at the bottom,” she said, “earning significantly less than men in the city at the same level of education, and earning significantly less than their female counterparts nationwide.”
And since the storm, data collected by the institute shows that men are benefiting more from the rebuilding effort than women, Jones-DeWeever said.
Consider some statistics:
Before Katrina, women made up 56% of the local workforce; now they make up 46%.
The number of families headed by single mothers in the metropolitan area has dropped from 51,000 to less than 17,000.
Food stamp usage by those single mothers who have returned has quadrupled.
Black women are not being employed in professional and managerial positions in New Orleans.
The median earnings for men in their lowest-paid occupations range from $15,150 to $23,500 annually, compared with women’s earnings of $11,400 to $20,000 in their lowest-paid occupations.
At the high end of the scale, men’s median earnings range from $38,700 to $130,000, compared with a high range of $30,000 to $63,000 for women.
The statistics in the study are disheartening, said state Rep. Karen Carter, who took part in the institute’s midday news conference.
“This report is quite tragic,” said Carter, D-New Orleans. “It’s unacceptable. Women vote. Women pay taxes. And women deserve better. The city will suffer if immediate action is not taken. It’s a crisis within the crisis that people are dealing with in their everyday lives as they try to rebuild.”
And that rebuilding is projected to take 10 to 15 years. One common theme of the report is that women must be given opportunities to participate in the rebuilding and trained and encouraged to take those opportunities, particularly in the high-paying construction trades.