Stagnant productivity. Long-term unemployment. Falling wages. Offshoring. Budget cuts. Silicon Valley has been hammered by the effects of a recession which is not disappearing with time. However, not all sectors of our community suffer from the recession to the same degree. While the economic crisis affects a broad spectrum of our community, certain sectors of our local population are more vulnerable to the recession than others and are impacted differently. It is our contention that understanding the ways in which women of different ethnic groups, ages and sexual orientations are affected by the crisis will provide valuable information to understand how our society creates barriers that prevent large segments of the population from meeting their basic needs. Analyzing the effects of the recession on women is not only useful to understand specific underserved populations. Because of existing societal discrimination, certain policies have far-reaching and unintended consequences on women alone. Analyzing these consequences that impact women more severely will provide an opportunity to recognize and rectify the historic and structural inequities brought to the forefront by the recession.
This report emphasizes the large pool of women whose struggles to make ends meet have become invisible. More so than men, large numbers of women in Santa Clara County do not earn enough to adequately support themselves and their families. Yet in this high cost region most of these women are not officially considered poor and thus fail to qualify for public support. While the factors leading to lower economic status for women have existed for decades, the present recession and budget crisis intensify these disparities, destabilizing women's and families' lives as prices rise and wages and employment falls. Bringing this group to the forefront and committing to change the way our community responds to their plight is a core objective of the Cardea Project.
The following section summarizes Silicon Valley's current economic climate as it affects working families. The remainder of the report details structural disparities and sources of discrimination behind women's precarious economic situations, including greater responsibility for children and family; employment discrimination; less access to appropriate health care; fewer educational opportunities; and domestic violence and sexual harassment. In each section, the report explains how the initial disparity is compounded by the current crisis.Who is Cardea?
Opener of every door in the future
Closer of every door in the past
"and the world moved on its hinges at her command"What is the Cardea Project?
1. To inform Silicon Valley residents of the recession's effects on low-income women;
2. To highlight businesses which provide quality employment for women in typically low-wage jobs and secure business support of policies mitigating the recession's effect on women;
3. To capture the experiences of Silicon Valley women that have not been noted in the literature by performing a survey in multiple languages in communities throughout the county;
4. To redefine low-income women more accurately than the unrealistically low poverty levels and uncover the true extent to which women currently fail to have their needs met; and
5. To hold a summit to act on recommendations and form broad alliances to carry out solutions to the problems highlighted in a project report.
The Crisis in Silicon Valley: Recession and Cuts"Economic Recovery" Not Producing Jobs for Silicon Valley
In Silicon Valley, unemployment remains high, even though the nation is nominally in a recovery. Unlike a typical recovery, few if any jobs are being created. This "job-loss" recovery is being sustained through an increase in productivity which, rather than resulting broadly in higher wages or increased employment, has primarily boosted corporate profits and in turn improved stock market performance.1 Those jobs being created tend to be in low-wage industries, while the state's high-wage industries continue to shed jobs. In short, the economy's recent growth comes as a result of employers hiring fewer people to do more work for less pay.
¥ In 2003, unemployment was at 6.0% for the United States,2 6.7% for California, and 9.9% for Santa Clara County.3
¥ While the state's unemployment increased from 4.9% in 1999 to 6.7% in 2003, joblessness in the county grew much more severely, climbing from a low of just 2.4% in 2000 to 9.9% in 2003.4
¥ One in five workers in the county experienced a layoff during the beginning of the recession.5
¥ From March 2003 to March 2004 alone, Santa Clara County lost 19,000 net jobs, 2.2% of total employment. Santa Clara lost more jobs than anywhere else save Detroit and Boston, and our percentage job loss was higher than in any other large metropolitan region except Detroit.6Deep Budget Cuts Target Women and Families
The ability of the safety net to support women through recession and job loss has been crippled by declining public sector revenues. Current proposals to balance the state budget put most of the burden on low-income and moderate-income families by cutting health care, public education, CalWORKS, and other social programs. The state has captured local revenues while shifting burdens to the county, which in turn must cut services to low-income and working families. Just as families' need for support programs is growing due to the recession, the capacity to respond to that need is being reduced or eliminated.
¥ State spending has fallen by 23% since 2001, as resources shrank because of tax breaks and falling tax revenue. The state now faces a multi-billion dollar budget gap.
¥ Several billion dollars in local government funding has been cut or taken away through various mechanisms; the 2004-2005 state budget includes $1.8 billion in cost shifts to local governments, devolving funding responsibility for many activities from the state to cities and counties.7
The Governor's 2004-5 budget cuts have a severe and disproportionate effect on women. Health care cuts to programs predominantly benefiting women include breast and cervical cancer programs, adult day health care services, low cost health insurance for mothers and infants, and wage assistance for nursing home workers. Social service cuts affect both recipients and providers, the majority of whom are women: CalWORKs participants and food stamp recipients, of whom 80% are women (90% in Santa Clara County), will suffer as benefits decrease and work requirements and childcare fees increase.8 In-home caregivers (77% women)9 and childcare providers (almost exclusively women)10 will lose their jobs or see their earnings reduced. These cuts double the negative impact on women, affecting not only clients, but also the predominantly female workforce.Women in Crisis
Even at the height of the boom, a larger percentage of women than men failed to make ends meet, and the recession has made matters worse. Women are less likely than men to earn enough income to support themselves and their families at a minimum sustainable standard of living (the "self-sufficiency standard").11 And, in the last three years, their poverty has increased.
¥ In 2000, one out of four households in Santa Clara County (24%) had incomes below the county's self-sufficiency standard,12 compared to 19.9% of households in the Bay Area.13
¥ Single women heads of households were even more likely to fall below self-sufficiency: 39% of the county's single women heads of household with and without children fell below the self-sufficiency standard in 2000Ñmeaning that nearly two out of every five woman heads of household could not earn enough to support themselves and their families. By comparison, 18% of married-couple households and 25% of male-headed households were below self-sufficiency.14
¥ In California between 2000 and 2002, the poverty rate increased from 12.7% to 13.4%.15
¥ Even though the largest number of single mothers in California are white and Latina, Latinas and African Americans are much more likely to be single mothers than White or Asian mothers.16
Most Low-Income Women Excluded from Support Programs
Because costs are so high in Santa Clara County, the majority of low-income families do not qualify for the public support programs that use one standard federal poverty level across the country. This gap between the official poverty level and the true cost of living leaves a large number of disproportionately female-headed families without a way to procure their basic needs.
¥ In 2000, nearly a fifth of all households in the county (18.1%) fell below the self-sufficiency standard yet above the federal poverty line.
¥ Many more women heads of households fell into this category: 27% of single female-headed households, 17% of single male-headed households, and 15% of married-couple households were below self-sufficiency yet above the poverty line.17
¥ Most federal, state, and local support programsÑincluding Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, food stamps, refugee cash assistance, and othersÑare only available to families with incomes at or near the federal poverty line.Women's Unemployment Grows, But Most Do Not Receive Jobless Benefits
In past recessions, women have experienced less severe unemployment than men. But in the current economic downturn, some of these patterns are changingÑespecially in Santa Clara County. Women in the county have been hit as hard as or harder than men by rising unemployment. As a result of welfare reform and the rising cost of living, more low-income women are seeking work and failing to find it.
¥ In Santa Clara County, women's unemployment rate has been as high as or higher than male unemployment since the recession began.18 This contrasts with the national unemployment rate for women in the recession, which has been lower or equal to that for men.19
¥ Nationwide, the unemployment rate for low-income single mothers and former welfare recipients has grown much more than the overall jobless rate during the recession,20 topping 12%. This trend is reflected in Santa Clara County, where the proportion of CalWORKS recipients with jobs fell from 38% in 1999-2000 to 22% in 2003.21
Our unemployment insurance system is still designed for male workers in traditional jobs; jobless women thus are less likely to qualify for unemployment insurance (UI). They also receive lower payments and run out of benefits more often, especially during a downturn. Although California has reformed its UI system to better serve women and families, the rules still put working women at a disadvantage.
¥ Unemployed women in California are 7.5% less likely than men to receive jobless benefits.22
¥ In California, 39% of women receiving unemployment exhausted their benefits in 2002, compared to 26% of men. This trend is exacerbated in Santa Clara County, where women are roughly three times as likely as men to exhaust their jobless benefits.23
¥ Both women and men in California still suffer from an inadequate unemployment insurance system. Only 44.0% of women and 47.5% of men receive unemployment compensation upon losing a job.24Unemployment Pushes More Women onto CalWORKS as Services Are Cut
As unemployment increases, more families in the county are turning to CalWORKS, the vast majority of them headed by women. Many female CalWORKS clients are enrolling in the county's job services or educational programs, yet they are finding it harder than ever to obtain employment.
¥ Seventy-nine percent of the county's adult CalWORKS clients and 91% of single parents on CalWORKS are women.25
¥ The number of county residents on CalWORKS grew by 13.5% between Jan. 2003 and Jan. 2004, and has grown by 40% since Sept. 2001. The statewide CalWORKS caseload fell during this period.26,27,28
¥ Half of the 2002-2003 growth in county CalWORKS cases came from former recipients who had successfully found jobs during the boom, only to lose them when the economy turned sour.
¥ A much higher proportion of county CalWORKS clients are enrolling in job services or educational activities; enrollment in both these categories has nearly doubled since Sept. 2000.29Employment Discrimination Lowers Women's Wages
Occupations where women are highly concentrated tend to have lower pay, and majority-male occupations tend to have higher pay.30 Even within occupations, there is usually a substantial wage difference between women and men.
The first two graphs at right demonstrate that in occupations with lower female participation, salaries are higher,31 and in occupations with a majority participation of women, salaries are lower.32 The third graph demonstrates that men make more than women on average in each occupation, regardless of participation rates by men and women in the occupation.
¥ Women are more than twice as likely as men to work part-time, and thus have less access to benefits and lower weekly earnings. Working part-time and full time: 25% of women vs. 11% of men in the US in 2002 worked part-time.Women in Unions Earn More, But Availability of Union Jobs Shrinks
Union membership raises women's wages and benefits and reduces the wage gap between women and men. However, shrinking union density and mass layoffs in some highly unionized industries, especially the public sector, are steadily eroding the number of women who benefit from the union boost.
¥ The median wage for a working woman in the U.S. is $17.50 if she has a union contract, and $13.00 if she does not. Women thus gain an average $4.50/hour from union coverage, while the "union premium" for men is $3.00/hour.33
¥ In California, women's wages are 20% lower than men's wages among non-union members, and 13% lower among union members.34
¥ Unionized jobs with benefits will be disproportionately impacted by Schwarzenegger's proposed budget cuts which would reduce wages and benefits and increase unemployment among government workers, teachers and school employees, and health care providers: all majority female and heavily unionized occupations.Senior Women Face Greater Poverty, More Vulnerable to Health Care Cuts
Senior women face additional structural barriers to wage and benefits parity, with greater poverty, lower benefits, and more dependence on public health programs. During the recession, even though seniors were losing jobs, and seniors spent more time looking for work, senior men and women's employment increased.
¥ Senior women in Santa Clara County have an average household income of $19,215, significantly lower than men's $27,870, and are 50% more likely to live in poverty.35,36
¥ Women receive much smaller Social Security and pension payments than do men; on average women receive $8,088 less than men.37
¥ Senior women are working more than senior men, although employment for both is rising,38 due mainly to a loss of stock market savings, the desire to maintain health coverage, and a need to pay for rising health care costs.39
¥ Elderly women will bear the brunt of Medicaid cuts.40 Plans to increase co-payments, restrict eligibility, and freeze or decrease provider reimbursement rates disproportionately affect elderly women, because women live longer and are far poorer. Many more women than men are patients in nursing homes or use IHSS services, which are also on the chopping block.Women Pay the Price for Children and Family Responsibilities
Women are more likely to take on the crucial responsibility of caring for and raising children, along with other household duties. Yet current policies often punish women for doing soÑespecially low-income women. Raising children is a leading cause of poverty and material hardship.
¥ In Silicon Valley, women employed full-time are still likely to have the primary responsibility for daily household care and coordination. Of women working full-time, 47% on average report having primary responsibility for managing daily household responsibilities (child care, meals, errands, children's homework), and 46% report having shared responsibility. Only 7% report that someone else in the household has primary responsibility.41
¥ In Santa Clara County, 34% of single women heads of household are raising kids, versus 15% of single men.42
¥ Statewide, 65% of single female-headed households with children in California had incomes below self-sufficiency in 2000, more than double the proportion of all households with inadequate incomes.43
¥ The frequent failure or inability of non-custodial parents (who are generally men) to pay child support further shifts the financial burden of childrearing to women.44 In 2003, 53% of child support owed in Santa Clara County was not paid.45
¥ Locally, the county has instituted a new program resulting in an increase in child support collected from 2002-2003. Despite high unemployment over the period, distributed collections rose from $93,947,151 in 2002 to $94,758,778 in 2003, reversing the previous year's decline from $96,089,172 in 2001.46Childcare Becoming More Costly, While Assistance Is Being Cut
A majority of women with children work outside the home, yet our society provides insufficient infrastructure to support them. The current county child-care system only meets one-quarter of the needs of working parents.
¥ In Santa Clara County, the cost of childrearing makes it a luxury to stay at home and care for one's children. Seventy-one percent of women with children aged 6-17 were in the labor force in 2000, compared to 56% of women without children.47
¥ As of 2002, 181,495 children in the county (ages 0-13) need a child care provider because both of their parents work, or they live with a single working parent. But only 49,125 licensed child care slots are available, leaving 78% of kids without a spot.48
The cost of childcare soared during the boom and has not dropped as quickly as families' incomes during the recession. As a result, childcare has become even more expensive, while federal and state support for childcare is being slashed.
¥ From 1995-2001, the cost of county infant and preschool care grew by over 100%, to an average of $784 monthly.
¥ Only 1 out of 7 children eligible for federal child care assistance receives it because of a lack of slots.
¥ The President's proposed FY2005 budget would cut and freeze child care funding until FY 2009, cutting off nearly 20% of children.49
¥ California has already cut $382 million from child care programs, and the Governor's proposed budget for 2004-2005 proposes additional cuts to child care for women transitioning off of CalWORKS.50Insurance Disparities Affect Women's Health
Women and minorities have less access to health insurance, and are more reliant on spouses or parents' employer-based insurance. Funding for health care that predominantly serves low-income women is declining, and dependent benefits are dropping as well. As a result, women's access to health care is falling at a rate greater than that of men.
¥ In California, women are more likely than men to lack insurance, with even greater disparities based on ethnicity. Twenty-one percent of Californians lacked insurance in 2001, climbing to 24.2% for women.51
¥ Nationwide, men are more likely than women to be providers of health insurance to spouses or children, and those covered by dependent health insurance are twice as likely to be female.52
¥ Single women are the most likely to be uninsured: 28% of single women in California lack health insurance, greater than the rates for women 19-64 (24% uninsured) or for married women (19% uninsured).53
The current recession affects women in three ways. It reduces coverage for dependents who are more likely to be married women, and reduces access for mothers receiving health insurance through Medi-Cal as eligibility levels drop or reimbursement rates are reduced. Finally, as women lose access to full-time jobs with benefits and are more likely to be hired for part-time jobs with no benefits, they lose access to health coverage.Quality and Access to Health Care Limited for Lesbian Women
Lesbians face structural, financial, personal, and cultural barriers when attempting to access health care services, which results in lowering the quality of care that they receive.54 Lesbian women are also less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual women.
¥ Health care providers sometimes discriminate against lesbians; fear of this bias, often precludes lesbian women from seeking preventative care, care for acute health conditions, or exacerbated chronic conditions.55
¥ Lesbians are less likely than heterosexual women to be insured, generally attributed to their inability to access spousal benefits.56Female-Headed Households Experience Critical Housing Problems
The cost of housing in Santa Clara County is higher than almost anywhere else in the nationÑeven in the current economic downturn. Female-headed households are disproportionately impacted by expensive housing in this region, leading to overcrowding, homelessness, prolonged domestic violence, and other hardships for women and their families.
¥ Santa Clara County was recently determined to be one of the top three least affordable counties for renters in the nation.57
¥ The wage needed to rent a one-bedroom apartment (based on annual rents) has been steadily climbing. It rose from $18.94 in 1999 to $28.37 in 2003-an increase of 50% in 4 years.58
¥ The typical CalWORKS grant for a three-person family in the county is just $703 per month, less than half the Fair Market Rent for even a one-bedroom apartment.
¥ In 2001 nationally, the total homeownership rate was 67.8 percent overall but only 51.9 percent for families headed by women. For women of color, the homeownership rate is only 35.5 percent.59
¥ The majority of families receiving Section 8 housing vouchers are headed by women. Nationwide, women head 84% of households receiving tenant-based vouchers and 75% of those with project-based vouchers.
¥ To comply with the Bush Administration's proposed $1 billion-plus cuts to Section 8 next year, the county would have to either take housing vouchers away from 1,934 families or increase the amount of rent families must pay by $1,843 annually, projected to triple by 2009.60 Given the shortage of affordable housing in the county, these families would likely be forced either into substandard, overcrowded housing, or out onto the street.Immigrant Women and Families Increasingly Cut Off From Safety Net
Immigrant women face additional barriers to accessing needed services, including ineligibility, lack of information, and cultural norms that make some reluctant to use the services. Rather than addressing these disparities, recent and proposed state policy changes cut services for immigrants. These cuts will create hardships for immigrants, particularly women and children, and will prevent many immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens.
¥ Undocumented immigrants are excluded from most family support programs, and even permanent residents may risk losing their green cards if they apply for cash aid such as CalWORKS.
¥ Services to assist Santa Clara County's immigrants become citizens have been drastically curtailed, with capacity reductions from 60-90%. At the same time, the application for citizenship has gone from 4 to 10 pages, and the fee has more than tripled, from $95 to $310.61
¥ Immigrant women tend to have less access to domestic violence services, although the issues surrounding domestic violence are complex and differ among immigrant cultures. Immigrant women are often unfamiliar with domestic violence laws in the United States and do not know where they can go for help. They may fear the legal and financial consequences of leaving their partner or especially of getting involved in the legal system. For some, there is no legal recourse: immigrant women who do not have proof of marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident are not protected under the Violence Against Women Act, making them and their children vulnerable to abuse by a partner with no legal recourse.62Domestic Violence Contributes to Female Poverty; Increased Violence Likely in Recession
Domestic violence, in addition to being dangerous and damaging directly, is often a cause of female poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. A recession can worsen the likelihood and scale of violence, as well as making it more difficult to leave a batterer. A woman's partner may be more likely to suffer from unemployment and depression, and may be more likely to become violent. At the same time, distressed economic times increase the chance that a woman will feel forced to remain with her batterer due to housing costs or income concerns for herself or her children.
¥ Over half of women receiving public assistance have experienced domestic violence during their adult lives.63
¥ Domestic violence contributes to reducing the time women hold jobs, and to holding lower status jobs.64
¥ In Santa Clara County, 50% of women looking for a place at the county's emergency shelters were homeless due to domestic violence.65
¥ Unemployment was found to be one of the strongest predictors for an increased likelihood that a woman will be murdered by her partner.66
¥ Proposed cuts in county funding to Bay Area Legal Aid could eliminate legal services for over 100 domestic violence survivors annually.67Data on Women's Experiences Often Not Available
In preparing this report, we found the majority of key data sources failed to identify information by gender. Examining information on the current economic outlook, employment, wage, or occupational trends at the county level is nearly impossible. As a result, data must either be purchased from the state or hours of time must be invested in researching basic economic questions. The Women's Bureau at the Department of Labor in particular has had mandates to cut programs and remove information from its web site.Conclusion and Steps to Action
1) High unemployment, rising costs, and falling wages mean than more and more women can no longer make ends meet. Santa Clara County's women have high unemployment rates, are less likely than men to receive jobless benefits, and are nearly three times as likely to exhaust those benefits. Even if they can find a job, women are paid less than men across the board, with working women in California earning only 82% of what men earn. These factors contribute to the feminization of poverty, as women occupy lower quality jobs with lower wages and fewer benefits. Unionization is one of the most consistently successfulstrategies for improving women's wages, but the number of union jobs in the U.S. has been declining in the last 20 years. At the same time, women's costs of living continue to climb; the cost of childcare has more than doubled in the mid-90s; the cost of health insurance has soared, especially as dependent care benefits are being cut, Santa Clara now has the highest rents in the state, with women more likely than men to be renters, and transit fares are up. Women's incomes have fallen, their costs have risen, and as a result, low- and moderate-income women in the county are not making enough to meet their basic needs.
2) Just when women most need support, the safety net is unraveling. Instead of expanding to meet the rising demand, state and federal governments are cutting funds for health care, education, employment training, childcare, and many other essential human services. Most of these cuts disproportionately affect women and families. For example, elimination of child care funding may make it almost impossible for women to remain off of welfare and hold down a job, while reductions in housing vouchers and health care further undermine safety net programs accessed mainly by women and their children. The county's high cost of living means that many low-income families are not eligible for support in the first place; more than 39% of families headed by single women in Santa Clara do not make enough to cover their basic needs, yet only 11.5% are below the official poverty line, leaving roughly 40,000 single women and their families out in the cold..
Each woman is uniquely affected by this combination of trends, and different socioeconomic groups of women are affected in different ways. Latinas are more likely to lack health insurance, rely on Medi-Cal, be unemployed, and live in poverty or below self-sufficiency than white women. Lesbian women are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual women and tend to receive a lower quality of care. Senior women receive lower Social Security and pension benefits than men, and make up the majority of those needing nursing home or in-home support services. For many Santa Clara women, the intersection of gender with other demographic characteristics intensifies the blow from the recession.
The ensuing report will detail the disparities among men and women, the differences within ethnicities, for senior women and lesbian women. In addition, the report will offer best local practices from around the country to offset some of these institutional disparities. A second report, currently planned for August 2004 and co-sponsored by the Commission on the Status of Women will divulge a broader set of best practices. This report will also communicate many of the voices of these women currently falling through the gaping holes in the safety net: we will be conducting a survey as part of this project to discuss these issues and possible solutions with low income women throughout Santa Clara County. The initial findings from that survey will be published in August 2004 as well.Endnotes