The Impact of the Current Economic Downturn on Women

Source: Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IWPR #B260, Testimony presented to the Joint Economic Committee, May 2008

First, I want to stress that the context of women’s employment has changed over time. If women ever worked for “pin money” they certainly no longer do. Women’s earnings are a large and critical share of the economic support of families in the United States today: Women’s earnings constitute 45 percent of all earnings that support families. The most typical family with children today is one in which both parents are working. That and the large number of families supported by working mothers alone mean that just about as many children have working mothers as have working fathers. Women’s earnings are especially important to the support of children who do not live with their fathers. Even though the typical woman who works full-time, year-round earns only about ¾ of what the typical man earns, more than 7 million families with children relied solely or mainly on the mother’s earnings in 2006.

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