Black Women in Utah: USU UWLP Reports on Status and Experiences

By Julene Reese | May 18, 2022


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Information that increases understanding of the status, conditions, and experiences of all social and identity groups is crucial in helping Utah local and state decision makers address current needs.

The Utah State University Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) has created a series of research reports on Utah women and girls to better understand their experiences. This report focuses on Black women in Utah and is third in a series of five reports. Sources include the 5-year U.S. 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, among others.

Susan Madsen, founding director of the UWLP and one of three report authors, said researchers collected data in five areas – general demographics, health, basic needs, education, and income and employment.

The data in this report provide a snapshot of the existing disparities in areas specifically related to Utah Black women,” she said. “It provides a good starting point for meaningful, targeted change.”

Currently, 16,072 Black women live in Utah, representing 0.5% of the state population, a much smaller portion than their 6.6% share of the U.S. population.

Health – Black women in Utah are much more likely to be uninsured compared to other Utah women (20.0% vs. 11.2%). Further, they have worse access to medical care, with 24.5% of Black women in Utah forgoing medical care due to cost compared to 13.8% of other Utah women, and more reporting no personal doctor (25.1% vs. 20.2%). Black women are more likely to report poor mental health (29.1% vs. 23.6%), or receive a diagnosis of a major depressive disorder (34.6% vs. 29.7%).

Basic Needs – This includes water, internet, safety, and freedom. Black women in Utah are much more likely to report no access to water (32.5%) than other Utah women (10.6%), all U.S. women (14.4%), and U.S. Black women (23.9%). As internet access becomes increasingly critical to accessing information, more Utah Black women report having no internet access at home (8.3%), compared to other Utah women (5.1%). Regarding safety, the Utah Office for Victims of Crime reports that of those who applied for crime victim reparations between 2019 and 2021, 81.6% were women. Utah Black women made up an average 2.8% of the female prison population between 2010 and 2021, compared to 1.0% of the total Utah female population in prison.

Education – Black women in Utah end their education with a high school diploma (26.0%) slightly more often than other Utah women (23.8%) and have much lower rates of attaining a bachelor’s degree at 19.0% vs. 29.0%.

Income and Employment – The median personal wage of Black women in Utah is a bit less than for all Utah women ($26,368 vs. $28,374), but household income is much lower than all Utah women ($38,174 vs. $70,838). Additionally, Black women in Utah face concerningly higher rates of poverty (33.6% vs. 10.8%), which is also higher than national trends (24.5% vs. 14.7% for all U.S. women). Regarding occupations, 14.3% hold professional positions, compared to 22.1% of Utah women, 31.9% are in administrative support roles compared to 35%, and 36.8% are in service and maintenance jobs compared to 24.3% of other Utah women.

“As the state continues to become more diverse, it is critical that the Utah Women & Leadership Project conducts and reports research focused on women of color,” said Madsen. “As we provide greater access and opportunity to all residents, the state can use these data to better use the talents, ideas, and resources Black women offer the state, employers, and Utah families.”

Additional report authors are Tasha Toy, assistant vice president for campus diversity, Utah Tech University, and Marin Christensen, UWLP associate director. 

To see the full report, including references, click here. For further information on UWLP programs and projects, visit