Rhode Island Women Workers and Voters

Atlas Project

Click here for original publication.

The plight of Rhode Island’s economy came to the national stage this week as Mitt Romney kicked his general election campaign into high gear in the Ocean State before the state’s April 24th primary. As debate on the campaign trail sparks over women in the workplace, Atlas takes a look at where women are voting and working in the Ocean State.                                  

In Rhode Island’s five counties, female voters outnumber male voters between six and nine percentage points.  Catalist data shows women hold the most sizable advantage (35,717 voters) in the state’s largest county, accounting for 54.4% of registered voters.



Female Voters

Male Voters

Bristol 19,643 53.6% 17,017 46.4%
Kent 63,799 54.2% 53,944 45.8%
Newport 30,730 53.9% 26,319 46.1%
Providence 215,088 54.5% 179,371 45.5%
Washington 49,976 53.2% 44,026 46.8%
Source: Catalist

Working women are ever so slightly outnumbered by working men in Rhode Island’s five counties. The largest discrepancy in employment rates between men and women is in southern Washington County (52% of men, 48% of women), which also maintains the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s counties.

The overall jobless rate in the Ocean State is 11.3%,the second-highest in the country behind Nevada. Notably, Rhode Island is one of only three states still reporting unemployment in double-digits. In 2011, the unemployment rate among Ocean State women was 10.1% (an increase of 5.3 percentage points since 2007), and 47.5% of women who were unemployed had been on the job search for 27 weeks or more, according to the  National Women’s Law Center .


Bristol 12,502 49.3% 12, 835 50.7%
Kent 42,322 49.1% 43, 838 50.9%
Newport 20,716 49.9% 20, 802 50.1%
Providence 147,091 49.6% 149,697 50.4%
Washington 31,746 48% 34, 375 52%
Rhode Island 254,377 49.3% 261,547 50.7%
Source: American Community Survey, 2010, 5 year estimates

Regardless of occupation, equal pay for women remains a persistent problem in Rhode Island as it does across the nation. The average woman working in Rhode Island is paid 80 cents to every dollar a man earns, which is three cents more than the disparity of 77 cents for women nationwide.  In Rhode Island, this pay differential is starker among minority women.  African American women are paid 62 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earns, while Hispanic women are paid 44 cents to every dollar a man makes. Rhode Island’s population is 5.7% African American and 12.4% Hispanic.

The male-female economic divide is evident when examining yearly earnings, poverty, and unemployment rates in Rhode Island. Overall, women working full time earned $40,532 while men made $50,567 in 2011. In the state, 13.6% of women are in poverty compared with 11.6% of men.

Women are also disproportionally affected by Rhode Island’s cuts to health care and disabilities. In 2010, about 14% of Rhode Island women used Medicaid while 32% of children were recipients, the National Women’s Law Center found.

– See more at Atlas Project.

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