African American Women
According to official estimates from the US Census Bureau the Black female population in the United States was 23.5 Million in 2013. This is 52% of the total Black population compared to Black males who make up 48% of the Black population.
Compared to all females in America Black females are on average younger at 35 years old compared to the age of ‘all females’ at 39 years old. Black female children (under 18 years old) are at the same percentage as ‘all female children’ to their respective populations at 49%. The percent of the population who are females increases much quicker for the Black population as they get older due to a higher mortality rate of Black men. This considering that women of all races and ethnicities have a longer lifespan than men.
In 2013 about 57% of Black women 25 and older attended college although only 31% have completed at least an associates degree compared to 60% of ‘all women’ who attended college of which 39% completed a degree (see chart on right).
Black women have been more successful than Black men in closing the gap when it comes to college degrees. About 22% of Black women have a bachelors degree compared to 30% of ‘all women’. Also the number of Black women who finished high school but did not pursue higher education is about the same as it is for ‘all women’, 27% compared to 28% respectively.
The percent of Black women who have an associates degree (9%) is equal to that of ‘all women’ (9%) in America. Only 15% of Black women over 25 did not complete high school which is only slightly higher than ‘all women’ at 13 percent.
African American females ages 16 to 64 had a higher participation rate in the labor force (71%) compared to ‘all females’ (69%) (see below table). Labor force participation refers to the percent of women who were either working or looking for work. Women not in the labor force include those who may be full time students, disabled, and others who are not looking or gave up looking for employment for other reasons.
The 36% of African American women who worked full time all year in 2013 had median earnings of $33,780 in 2013 compared to $38,097 for ‘all women’ (above table). Of Black females ages 16 to 64 years old, 25% had no earnings in 2013 which was higher than the 26% with no earnings of ‘all females’ in the same age group. Also a larger percentage of Black females 16 to 64 were unemployed than for ‘all females’ (9.6% compared to 5.8%) and were living below the poverty level (29%) than ‘all females’ (17%).
Compared to ‘all women’ in the United States Black women who worked were less likely to work in occupations that may be considered white collar and were much more likely to hold service jobs. Only 64% of working Black women held white collar jobs compared to 72% of ‘all women’ (see left chart). For the purpose of the above table white collar occupations include but are not limited to jobs in management, business, computers, office, legal, education, etc.
Blue collar occupations which were held by 8% of working Black women include employment in construction, maintenance and repair, installation, production, transportation, etc. Service occupations include healthcare support, protective service, food preparation and serving, etc.
Black women are the head of 29% of all Black households which is more than twice the rate for ‘all women’ at 13 percent. These are households defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as having a female head and no spouse present. Only 33% of Black women who gave birth were married which is almost the opposite for ‘all women’ at 64%.
These additional responsibilities may also explain why Black women are slightly over-represented in the workforce compared to all women and even higher than Black men (67%). Even though Black women are over-represented in the workforce they still have a higher unemployment rate than ‘all women’, 10% to 6% respectively. All of these factors help explain the higher poverty rate for Black women (29%) than ‘all women’ at 17 percent.
The percentages of Black women who are married and who have never been married are almost the exact opposite of those percentages for ‘all women’ in America (left chart). Although 48% of Black women have NEVER been married 46% of ‘all women’ are CURRENTLY married. Only 26% of Black women are currently married while only 30% of ‘all women’ in America have NEVER been married. Black women are also less likely to be separated from their spouses (5%) compared to all women at 9% but are much more likely to be divorced (13%) compared to 3 percent.
Black women are less likely to be married than Black men. As a matter of fact there are about 364,000 more Black men who are married than Black women even though Black women are 51% of the Black population. While an overwhelming percentage of Black women are married to Black men (94%), about 86% of Black men are married to Black women.