Single moms making slower economic recovery

February 1, 2012 5:51:25 PM PST
A new report is providing an interesting snapshot of California's economic recovery, as one group in particular is not participating in the turn-around at the same pace.

Only 6 in 10 single moms in California were working in 2010, according to the report. That is the smallest proportion since 1996. As California inches out of the Great Recession, the state's women, particularly single mothers, are still struggling. A new report called "Falling Behind" reveals that men are finding jobs at a faster rate than women, giving a new name to the economic recovery.

"We've moved into what some of the pundits are calling the 'He-covery,' where men are getting jobs back, but we've seen women's employment stall," says Jean Ross with the California Budget Project.

The report goes on to say that continued deep budget cuts to the safety net leave women in an even worse position. Job training and cash grants have been slashed, making it harder to gain new skills while raising kids.

After couch surfing with friends and family for 8 years, Tasha Guzman of Hayward finally has subsidized housing. The mother of two does not need a report to tell her how tough the recession and budget cuts have been. "They could tax the rich people and leave us poor people alone because we're just getting poorer. And, it's not fair to us," she says.

It could get worse, as Gov. Jerry Brown proposes even deeper cuts to programs like welfare and subsidized childcare, parts of the budget that can be legally reduced. The report points out that the state expects women to get off welfare faster when there are no jobs.

"Obviously, that's the only thing to cut," Brown said on January 5. "If there were more bad programs or lower-valued programs, we'd cut those. We can't spend what we don't have."

Daniela Scally of Sacramento is playing by all the rules, having moved off welfare and working, but with community college tuition rising and her subsidized childcare on the chopping block, the mother of three fears the worst: being homeless.

"I can't imagine to look my kids in the face and tell them, 'I'm sorry, but you don't have your bed anymore and you don't have your house anymore,'" she said sobbingly.

The Women's Foundation of California, which funded the report, thinks it is important to get more female lawmakers into public office to help make budget decisions, but fewer than a quarter of the legislature could be women after the November election.


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