The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas
this afternoon released the results of a study examining economic indicators for women across the state, sorted by region and county.

The study draws from an Arkansas Economic Development Institute analysis of data sets from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and its 2012 Survey of Business Owners. The full report will be available later this week at this link, but the overview contains some interesting numbers:


*Unsurprisingly, women in Arkansas are more likely to live in poverty than women nationally. About 85.5 percent of women in the U.S. live above the poverty line, as compared to 81.5 percent in Arkansas. (It’s worth noting here that federal poverty measures are imperfect. For one thing, the poverty line doesn’t take into account the vast differences in cost of living from one locale to another: $20,000 in Magnolia, Arkansas stretches a lot further than in San Francisco or Brooklyn.)

*In three Arkansas Delta counties — Lee, Desha and Chicot — almost a third of all women live in poverty.


*The racial gap in poverty status varies significantly based on geography. About the same percentage of white women live above the poverty line in Northwest Arkansas (83.4 percent) and in Southeast Arkansas (83.7 percent). But while women of color in the Northwest quadrant of the state are less likely to live above the poverty line (75.6 percent) than their white counterparts, the gap is much more pronounced among in Southeast Arkansas, where just 65.5 percent of women of color live above the poverty line.

*About 14 percent of women haven’t completed high school,  a bit higher than the national rate of 12.4 percent. The big educational attainment gap between Arkansas and the rest of the country is in college: Only 22.2 percent of women in the state hold bachelor’s degrees, compared to 30.5 percent nationally. The figures are consistent with state educational data that show Arkansas has made significant progress on boosting educational attainment at the secondary level but still lags at the postsecondary level. *


*Northwest Arkansas has the state’s largest racial gap in educational attainment: 13.3 percent of white women do not have a high school diploma in NWA, versus 26.5 percent of women of color.

*Among households headed by women, almost half — 46.8 percent — live in poverty. Nationally, the figure is 39.7 percent.

*The median gender pay gap persists nationally and is slightly larger in Arkansas than the country as a whole. The earnings ratio (which only takes into account full-time, year-round employment) is 77.8 percent in Arkansas and 79.6 percent nationally. “There is little variation in the gender earnings ratio for all women and all men by region,” the study notes. (I’d note that this median gap is across all sectors and employers and may conceal smaller or larger disparities within individual professions.)

*Comparing the earnings ratio of women of color versus white men in South Arkansas, the study found that “full-time, full-year employed women of color earn almost 50% less than their white male counterparts.”