Category Archives: Working Women

Paid Family Leave in the United States

Source: Sarah A. Donovan, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44835, May 24, 2017

…. This report provides an overview of paid family leave in the United States, summarizes state-level family leave insurance programs, notes paid family leave policies in other advanced-economy countries, and notes recent federal proposals to increase access to paid family leave. ….

What we know and don’t know about declining labor force participation: A review

Source: Eleanor Krause and Isabel V. Sawhill, Brookings Institution, May 2017

From the summary:

For decades, the portion of prime-age men (ages 25 to 54) in the labor force has been in decline. More recently, the labor force participation rate of prime-age women has stagnated and also declined. This paper addresses the consequences of, and reasons for, these declines, especially among men. A subsequent effort will address appropriate policy responses.

Women’s increasing workforce participation through the late 1990s largely masked the precipitous decline in male participation rates. Men’s rates have fallen about 8 percentage points over the past 60 years. On both fronts, the U.S. is also falling behind other advanced economies. U.S. prime-age female participation fell from 6th to 17th of 22 OECD member countries between 1990 and 2010. Over the same period, the decline in the prime-age male participation rate was the second most severe of the OECD countries, and is now the third lowest among the 34 member countries. The U.S. trends are particularly pronounced for non-Hispanic black men and less-skilled adults. There is now an 11 percentage point gap in participation rates between men with a college degree and those with a high school degree or less—whereas 50 years ago, the two rates were very similar.

Explanations for these trends tend to focus either on the demand for workers or the supply of labor. Trade and technology have reduced the demand for certain types of work, particularly less-skilled labor in fields like manufacturing. Of the two, most economists believe that automation has played the larger role. Manufacturing’s share of GDP has remained relatively stable but, thanks in part to productivity improvements, the sector now employs only two-thirds as many people as it did 30 years ago. Technological change has widened the wage gap between skill levels. While a man with a high school degree earned about three-quarters of the wages of his college-educated counterpart in 1980, he now earns about half as much. At the same time that technology has made certain jobs obsolete, new jobs are being created in other areas (both high-wage managerial and technical jobs and low-wage service sector jobs), but these new jobs often require different skills or pay lower wages…..

Maternal occupational physical activity and risk for orofacial clefts

Source: A. J. Agopian, Jihye Kim, Peter H. Langlois, Laura Lee, Lawrence W. Whitehead, Elaine Symanski, Michele L. Herdt, George L. Delclos, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, May 19, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives
To perform a case-control study of maternal occupational physical activity and risk for orofacial clefts in Texas during 1999-2009.

Methods
We used logistic regression to assess 14 measures of physical activity estimated from a job exposure matrix, using the maternal occupation reported on the birth certificate, among 887 children with cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CLP), 436 children with cleft palate only (CP), and 1932 controls.

Results
After adjusting for several potential confounders, seven measures of physical activity (as a categorical and/or continuous variable) were significantly associated with CLP, CP, or both. Positive associations were seen for keeping balance, kneeling, standing, and walking/running (odds ratio 95% confidence interval range 1.0-1.9 for fourth versus first quartile). A significant positive trend was also seen for bending/twisting. Negative associations were seen for repetitive motion and sitting.

Conclusions
Maternal occupational physical activity may be related to the etiology of orofacial clefts.

Equal Pay for Mothers Is Critical for Families

Source: Jasmine Tucker, National Women’s Law Center, Fact Sheet, May 2017

From the summary:
More than 22.8 million mothers with children under 18 are in the workforce, making up nearly 1 in 6 – or 15.5 percent – of all workers. The great majority of these mothers work full time. In 2015, 42 percent of mothers were sole or primary family breadwinners, while 22.4 percent of mothers were co-breadwinners, meaning families are increasingly relying on mothers’ earnings.

While women in the U.S. who work full time, year round are typically paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, the wage gap between mothers and fathers is even larger. Mothers working full time, year round outside the home are paid just 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, a gap that translates to a loss of $16,000 annually. The wage gap between mothers and fathers exists across education level, age, location, race, and occupation, and compromises families’ economic security….

Why Is Government One of the Worst Industries for Equal Pay?

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, May 18, 2017

Women working in public administration make, on average, 25 percent — or $16,900 — less than men.

Related:
Unions help narrow the gender wage gap
Source: Elise Gould and Celine McNichols, Economic Policy Institute, Working Economics Blog, April 3, 2017

….One promising way to address both gender-specific disparities and the broken link between all typical workers’ pay and economy-wide productivity growth is through the resuscitation of collective bargaining. Unions have been proven to provide women with higher wages and better benefits. As shown in the figure below, working women in unions are paid 94 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to unionized working men, compared to 78 cents on the dollar for non-union women as a share of non-union men’s dollar. Furthermore, hourly wages for women represented by unions are 23 percent higher than for nonunionized women. Unions provide a boost to women regardless of their race or ethnicity. The gender wage gap is significantly smaller among both white and black unionized workers than their non-union counterparts. Unionized workers are also more likely to have access to various kinds of paid leave, from paid sick days, vacations, and holidays to paid family and medical leave, enabling them to balance work and family obligations…..

The Dynamics of Gender Earnings Differentials: Evidence from Establishment Data

Source: Erling Barth, Sari Pekkala Kerr, Claudia Olivetti, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w23381, May 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We use a unique match between the 2000 Decennial Census of the United States and the Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics (LEHD) data to analyze how much of the increase in the gender earnings gap over the lifecycle comes from shifts in the sorting of men and women across high- and low-pay establishments and how much is due to differential earnings growth within establishments. We find that for the college educated the increase is substantial and, for the most part, due to differential earnings growth within establishment by gender. The between component is also important. Differential mobility between establishments by gender can explain 27 percent of the widening of the pay gap for this group. For those with no college, the, relatively small, increase of the gender gap over the lifecycle can be fully explained by differential moves by gender across establishments. The evidence suggests that, for both education groups, the between-establishment component of the increasing wage gap is due almost entirely to those who are married.

How Do the U.S and Canadian Social Safety Nets Compare for Women and Children?

Source: Hilary Williamson Hoynes, Mark Stabile, University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w23380, May 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The past 25 years has seen substantial change in the social safety nets for families with children in the US and Canada. Both countries have moved away from cash welfare but the US has done so relying more exclusively on inwork benefits with work requirements. This paper examines this evolution across the two countries and examines the effects on employment and poverty. In particular, we focus on the two largest programs over this period: the U.S. EITC and the Canadian NCB/CCTB. In light of these policy changes, we examine trends in employment and poverty of the most affected families — single mothers with less than a college degree — across the two countries. We find that employment improved substantially in both countries, absolutely and relative to a control group of single women without children. The cross-country differences in relative trends are mainly explained by differences in the labor market conditions. Poverty rates for single mothers also declined in both countries with more of the decline coming through market income in the U.S. and benefit income in Canada.

What Do Moms Really Need This Mother’s Day? Paid Family Leave

Source: Tillie McInnis, Refinery29, May 12, 2017

….Paid leave allows a worker to take time off in order to prioritize wellness, family, and life outside of work without losing pay (or risking their job security). Paid leave includes, but is not limited to family leave, personal leave, and sick leave. It seems like a simple concept that everyone should have access to, yet 61% of those on the lowest rungs of the income ladder don’t have a single paid sick day, and only 13% of U.S. workers have some paid family leave through their employers. It feels almost too obvious to be highlighting, but it’s an important point: Paid sick days are good for workers, and they don’t cost businesses much. Compared to other developed countries, the U.S. is seriously lagging in paid leave. We are one of the few developed countries still having contentious debates about abortion, and yet when a child is born, there are few to no laws in place that help children and families thrive. We put businesses first, claiming that it is too costly for employers to provide paid sick days, but as research shows, that is simply not the case. In New York City specifically, businesses surveyed found little to no increase in costs when they started to provide employees with paid sick days…..
Related:
How America Treats Working Moms Like Shit
Source: Laura Smith, Mother Jones, May/June 2017

….As many have pointed out, all moms are working moms, regardless of whether they are paid for their work. But as sociologist Arlie Hochschild put it in her book The Second Shift, mothers juggling housework with a day job enjoy a “double burden.” In time for Mother’s Day, here’s a short history of some of America’s most underappreciated employees…..

Lifetime Disadvantage, Discrimination and the Gendered Workforce (Chapter One)

Source: Susan Bisom-Rapp & Malcolm Sargeant, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 2958253, posted May 3, 2017

Cambridge University Press, 2016

From the abstract:
Lifetime Disadvantage, Discrimination and the Gendered Workforce fills a gap in the literature on discrimination and disadvantage suffered by women at work by focusing on the inadequacies of the current law and the need for a new holistic approach. Each stage of the working life cycle for women is examined with a critical consideration of how the law attempts to address the problems that inhibit women’s labor force participation. By using their model of lifetime disadvantage, the authors show how the law adopts an incremental and disjointed approach to resolving the challenges, and argue that a more holistic orientation towards eliminating women’s discrimination and disadvantage is required before true gender equality can be achieved. Using the concept of resilience from vulnerability theory, the authors advocate a reconfigured workplace that acknowledges yet transcends gender.