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Report shows SD one of worst states for women

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Women are not faring well in South Dakota, according to an article published on iVillage, a website that targets women's lifestyles.

In the feature "50 Best & Worst States for Women," the iVillage site puts South Dakota in 39th place for woman-friendliness, between Texas (38) and Tennessee (40), a long way from first-place Connecticut, and uncomfortably close to last-place Mississippi.

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Overall, South Dakota received a score of 3.1 on iVillage's 10-point scale. No state scored a perfect 10, but Connecticut, which took first place, scored 8.9 percent. Other states in the top five are Hawaii (2), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (4) and California (5).

The bottom five states for women are Kentucky (46), West Virginia (47), Arkansas (48), Oklahoma (49) and Mississippi (50).

The rankings, according to iVillage, consider education, health care, the economy, affordable childcare, female representation in government and reproductive rights.

The article also touched on some hot-button issues.

iVillage scored South Dakota poorly on safe, affordable access to abortion and family planning services because the state "has the longest waiting period between consultation and [abortion] procedure: 72 hours, which is on hold pending the outcome of multiple lawsuits."

South Dakota was also panned for recently passing an abortion law requiring mandatory counseling "that includes a doctor asking questions about how a woman's age and religious views might have played into her decision."

The report used information compiled by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, which in turn utilized U.S. Census Bureau data.

The report said South Dakota also comes up short in feminine leadership.

According to iVillage, which is owned by NBCUniversal Media, "South Dakota needs more women in power, both in the workplace, the state capital and in Washington."

By comparison, 37th place North Dakota was handled less gently. "'Women in Power' is a foreign term in North Dakota in both politics and business," read iVillage's summary statement.

Health insurance/childcare

On the positive side, 84 percent of South Dakota women have health insurance-- about 3 percentage points higher than the 81 percent national average, but below neighboring North Dakota's 89.1 percent.

The lowest rated states for health coverage are Florida and Texas, where 73 percent and 70 percent of women, respectively, have health insurance.

Massachusetts rated best with coverage at 96 percent.

Another plus for South Dakota was the state's low childcare costs, which average $5,750 a year for an infant, a price among the cheapest in the nation. Connecticut's average was $12,650 and Mississippi, $4,650 a year. The highest was Massachusetts, where childcare costs are $16,500 a year.

Economics

iVillage reported a median wage of $30,876 for South Dakota women. That, according to U.S. Census data, places South Dakota women in 45th place nationally for earnings, a long way from first place Connecticut at $56,127 and second place Maryland at $47,125, but close to last place Mississippi, whose women earn an average of $28,879 annually.

The 2010 Census placed South Dakota men in 51st place nationally in wages -- the bottom of the pile -- with an average wage of $37,442.

The study also showed that 85 percent of South Dakota women live above the poverty line (according to 2010 Census data, the line is $11,344 for one person younger than 65), which placed it on a par with California in that statistic. Worst off was Mississippi, where only 78.4 women live above the poverty line.

New Hampshire had the best economic showing, with 90.8 percent of women living above the poverty line.

Businesses owned by women

According to iVillage, only 22 percent of South Dakota businesses are female run, the country's worst number.

While the iVillage report did not consider the District of Columbia, U.S. Census data shows that 34.5 percent of D.C. businesses are run by women.

The Census puts Maryland second with 32.6 percent; New Mexico third, with 31.7 percent; Hawaii fourth, with 31 percent; and Georgia fifth, with 30.9 percent.

Data used to compile the iVillage report show that South Dakota ranks ninth with 64.6 percent of women in the workforce, which is close to first place North Dakota, where 66.6 percent of civilian women work in the labor force.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and the woman she ousted, former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin-D, notwithstanding, iVillage said South Dakota has a poor record when it comes to electing women to higher office. "Women hold just 20 percent of the seats in the state legislature and they've never had a female governor. The state's last female U.S. senator served for a single year: 1948."

South Dakota can take comfort that it is not among the four states that have never sent a woman to Congress: Iowa, Mississippi, Delaware and Vermont.

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