NC women's report finds improvements, challenges

October 11, 2012 12:08:40 PM PDT
A report on how North Carolina women are faring says they're participating more in politics and are narrowing their income gap with men, but they still face obstacles to health care and benefits that would help them thrive in the workforce.

Gov. Beverly Perdue said Thursday the summary on the first "Status of Women in North Carolina" report in 16 years shows progress but persistent problems that keep women in poverty.

She called it an important roadmap for where we need to go.

"From my perspective, this is as important as anything that we've done during the four years I've been governor," said Perdue.  

Perdue said many of the shortcomings found in the study are nationwide problems and not just in North Carolina. But she said the North Carolina state government falls short when it hires temporary workers who don't get benefits because of budget cuts.

"The bottom line is North Carolina is making progress around poverty for women and healthcare for women and their families, but the progress is not something we can be really proud of," said the governor.

The study finds six out of 10 women are now in the workforce. That's up from the last study conducted in 1996. It also shows women holding more legislative seats and management positions, as well as women graduating college. In four out of 10 families, women are the breadwinners, while teen pregnancy rates declined.

Some of the areas of improvement according to the study are paid leave, affordable healthcare, and insurance coverage, but it also found women are more likely than men to live below the federal poverty line.

One of the biggest disparities for women was salaries. Statewide, women on average earn only 83 cents for every dollar earned by men.

"It's absolutely wrong. If you're a woman out there in a job that pays you less money than an equally trained man is making, it's wrong and you ought to talk to your employer about it. It's just fundamentally wrong," said Perdue.

The report cost $90,000, with a third of the cost paid by the state.

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