- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Female seniors are more likely to be living in poverty than their male counterparts, new U.S. Census data shows, a legacy of generally lower-wage jobs with fewer retirement benefits during their working years combined with longer life spans.

The poverty rate is about 12 percent for American women 65 and older, compared to 7.4 percent of their male peers. While younger women are also more likely to be poor, the differences are starker in the older age brackets, according to The Deseret News newspaper (https://bit.ly/1Kklr3y ).

Peter Hebertson with Salt Lake County’s Aging and Adult Services says that he gets far more requests for help from women than men.

The department runs assistance programs like Meals on Wheels for older seniors, but now officials are seeing a growing need from younger seniors who need help finding a place to live or affordable insurance.

But with long waits for apartments at affordable housing complexes and a lean supply of federal housing vouchers, they’re sometimes sending people to get a job.

“That’s all that’s out there,” Hebertson said. And as the baby boomer generation ages, the senior population will only increase.

Evelyn Waters worked her whole life, but at 71, her two pensions and small retirement savings don’t leave her budget with much wiggle room. Waters, who is divorced, lives in a Salt Lake City housing complex for seniors and disabled people who make half of the average income or less.

After rent and bills, she has just enough to buy gifts for her two grandchildren and occasionally treat herself.

“I really like a McDonald’s quarter-pounder with cheese,” she said with a soft laugh.

The poverty rate for seniors is still lower than the 14.8 percent poverty rate for the country as whole. While that hasn’t changed much in recent years, it has yet to drop below pre-recession levels, said Glenn Bailey, executive director of Crossroads Urban Center, which advocates for low-income people.

Many people who lost their jobs had to settle for lower-paying positions with fewer benefits, and reliance on food stamps remains at record highs, he said.

“We’re not really reaching down and bringing up the people who have the least,” he said.

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Information from: Deseret News, https://www.deseretnews.com

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