The Status of Utah Black Women

Utah is becoming increasingly diverse, and this has brought wide disparities between most minority groups and the White population in terms of education, housing, and health outcomes. Last year, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah released a report on race, ethnicity, and sex that started the conversation more broadly, and now the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) is expanding and deepening this discussion by focusing a series of research snapshots on Utah women of color. As the UWLP focuses on strengthening the impact of all Utah girls and women, research that increases our understanding of the status, condition, and experiences of girls and women within all social and identity groups—including race and ethnicity—is crucial.  

Often, research entities publish data on gender and race separately, leaving a gap of information and understanding on the intersection of gender and race/ethnicity. Yet, separate data do not give the community, decision makers, and policy makers the depth of information needed to design programs and policies that meet the diverse needs of all Utah women. To begin to close the data gap, this research snapshot is the third of five that detail the available data on Utah women of each Census race/ethnic category: Pacific Islander, Asian, Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American women. The data presented here include information from, among other sources, the 5-year US Census Microdata, Utah System of Higher Education, Utah Department of Corrections, and a number of Utah Department of Health offices, including Health Disparities, Vital Records and Statistics, and Public Health Assessment. 

Setting the Stage 

This research snapshot highlights the gender and race interaction for Utah Black women. It highlights both the available data and the information gaps that can, if filled, help local and state decision-makers and leaders to understand and address the needs of Utah Black girls and women. Researchers use the US Census description for “Black,” which is “A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.” Thus, while widely-used Census categories allow for data to be comparable across entities, the categories represent many different countries, cultures, and experiences. 

Demographics 

  • Population Size: The Utah Black population has seen steady growth over time and now comprises 1.2% of the Utah population. 
  • Household Size: The average household size for Black women in Utah is 3.0 persons, which is the same as all Utah women (3.0). 
  • Family Household Type: Almost 60% of Utah Black households consist of married couple families, compared to 81.7% of all Utah families and 45.4% of US Black families. 
  • Marital Status: Just under 35.0% of Black women in Utah are married, which is significantly lower than all US women (48.7%) and all Utah women (56.9%). 

Health 

  • Access to Healthcare: Black women in Utah are much more likely to be uninsured than all Utah women (20.0% vs. 11.2%). 
  • Physical Health: Utah Black women are more likely to receive most preventative care but more likely to experience poor health outcomes compared to Utah women in general. 
  • Reproductive Health and Wellbeing: The birth rate per 1,000 Black women in Utah is 13.8, slightly more than the rate of 10.6 for all Utah women. 
  • Mental Health: According to the data, Utah Black women fare worse in mental health outcomes than Utah women generally. 

Education, Income and Employment 

  • Education: According to the 5-Year US Census Microdata, Black women in Utah end their education with a high school diploma (26.0%) slightly more often than Utah women (23.8%) and have much lower rates of attaining a bachelor’s degree (19.0% vs. 29.0% of all Utah women). 
  • Income: While Utah Black women have a higher labor force participation rate compared to Utah women (67.7% vs. 61.7%), the median personal income for Utah Black women is much lower than the median income for Utah women generally ($15, 438 vs. $19,245). 
  • Occupation: Utah Black women are represented at different rates across occupational settings as compared to Utah women generally. 
  • Industry: Utah Black women are also employed in industry at different rates than Utah women generally. 
  • Business Ownership: The Women’s Business Center of Utah report that, of their majority of women clients (95%), 2.0% are Black. 

Conclusion

The data in this report provide a snapshot of the existing disparities in several areas specifically related to Utah Black women. Thus, the report provides a starting point for meaningful, targeted change. Although we were able to find existing data regarding the general demographics, health, basic needs, education, and income and employment of Utah Black women, usable information was not available in many categories we hoped to collect, such as housing, transportation, domestic violence, unpaid labor, caregiver status, childcare accessibility, civic engagement, and food insecurity. Additionally, data are not available for the diverse Black subgroups, where experiences and data may vary greatly depending on ethnicity or regional origin. This demonstrates both a data gap and an opportunity for Utah universities, government, nonprofit, and other entities to do more to collaborate, gather, and report quality data that can help government, education, business, and nonprofit leaders and decision markers understand more deeply the circumstances and needs of Utah’s Black women. More generally, gender, race, and ethnicity, along with other important demographic data, can help Utahns create a more inclusive, accessible, and equitable culture for all.  

Overall, Utahns can increase equity and equality within the state by utilizing data to recognize the impact of gender and race in our everyday lives. As we seek to provide greater access and opportunity to all residents, the state can use these data to better utilize the talents, ideas, and resources that Black women have to offer the state, employers, and Utah families. Using data to create policies that support all Utah residents, including Black women, can strengthen Utah’s workplaces, educational institutions, communities, and the state as a whole.

To learn more about the status of Utah Black women, read the full snapshot.

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