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SACRAMENTO – California women, and especially Latinx and other women of color in Los Angeles County, face persistent barriers to accessing economic security, physical and mental health care, and representation in elected positions that greatly improve their lives, the well-being of their families and communities, and the state’s economy, according to a new resource from the California Budget & Policy Center.

The Budget Center released its updated California Women’s Well-Being Index, an interactive online tool that provides a multifaceted statewide look and breakdown by all 58 California counties of how women are doing in their communities. The Index pulls together an array of measures for women and shares data by race and ethnicity, including health, personal safety, employment and earnings, economic security, and political empowerment data.

Women living in Los Angeles County face among the lowest levels of economic security in the entire state, and immense barriers to health care. 

  • Median gross rent in Los Angeles County is 39% of women’s median annual earnings, illustrating that the cost of housing is out of reach for many women.
  • The annual cost of child care for two children is 75% of single mothers’ median income in Los Angeles County.
  • A greater share of women in Los Angeles County commute more than 15 minutes to work. Longer commute times can limit upward mobility and illustrates the effects of segregation and a lack of access to good jobs. 
  • Nearly 13% of women in Los Angeles County lack health insurance coverage, placing the county in the bottom five in terms of insured women.
    • Los Angeles County’s high uninsured rate may be driven in part by barriers and discrimination for the county’s large Latinx population who may lack coverage because they don’t have employer-provided benefits or face restrictions to coverage based on citizenship status.

“Gender and racial discrimination are hurting California women even with statewide policy advances in recent years such as expanded paid family leave and funding for child care that are particularly important for women,” said Kristin Schumacher, creator of the California Women’s Well-Being Index and Senior Policy Analyst with the California Budget & Policy Center. “The data and information in the Budget Center’s new Index by race, ethnicity, region, and our own stories show that lacking access to quality health care and child care, not having financial resources to turn to in crisis, and still being kept out of decision-making at many levels of government women are not receiving the support and investment we need to thrive in California.” 

A snapshot of statewide data and findings that can be found in the Index:

California women lack access to health care. 

  • 1 in 10 women in California do not have health insurance. 
  • 17% of Latinx women do not have health insurance compared to just 5.6% of white women.

California women are blocked from earning a living wage or affording the cost of living.

  • Nearly 4 in 10 women in California earn low wages. 
  • More than half of Latinx women earn low wages (52.6%) – nearly double the rate for white women in California (27.5%). 
  • The median earnings for Latinx women working full-time, year-round were just 42 cents for every dollar earned by white men in California. 

California women are kept out of decisions about their lives.

  • Overall, women make up just 32% of the seats in the California Senate and Assembly. 
  • In 22 counties, women are not represented by women in any of the state Assembly or Senate seats for the county. 

The Index is being released when local, state, and federal leaders must consider policy and budget investments for people and communities, and how to support millions of Californians who have lost jobs and income, cannot safely return to work, do not have access to child care, and are supporting children in distance learning. A recent report by the Budget Center found at the worst point of the recession so far, 1 in 4 women were out of work and the unemployment rate reached 20% or more for Asian, Black, Latinx, and other Californians of color. Meanwhile, state leaders have yet to propose revenue or borrowing policy proposals to adequately address the ongoing needs of the state, local communities, and Californians.

About the Budget Center’s California Women’s Well-Being Index: The Women’s Well-Being Index is a multifaceted, composite measure that consists of five “dimensions”: Health, Personal Safety, Employment & Earnings, Economic Security, and Political Empowerment. Each dimension is composed of six indicators that have been standardized and combined to create dimension scores, on a scale from zero to 100, for each of California’s 58 counties. The five dimension scores have been combined to create an overall Women’s Well-Being Index score for each county.


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