Nearly 17.8 million women—more than one in seven—lived in poverty in 2012.

About 44 percent of these women, nearly 7.8 million, lived in extreme poverty, which is defined as income at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty level.

Overall, the poverty rate for women in the U.S. (14.5 percent) was significantly higher than for men (11 percent), according to a recent analysis of census figure by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

The official poverty rate reported by the Census Bureau measures the percentage of the U.S. population with income below the federal poverty threshold for their family size. For example, the threshold for a one adult with one child was $15,825 in 2012.

Poverty rates for most groups were statistically unchanged from 2011 but remain near historically high levels.

Other NWLC findings include:

  • Poverty rates were particularly high for women who head families (40.9 percent), black women (25.1 percent), Hispanic women (24.8 percent), and women 65 and older living alone (18.9 percent);
  • More than half of all poor children lived in families headed by women. More than one in five children—over 16 million—were poor; and
  • Women working full-time, year-round continued to be paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, unchanged from 2011 and stagnant for a decade.