Category Archives: Working Women

Pay Transparency

Source: Gowri Ramachandran, Penn State Law Review, forthcoming 2012

From the abstract:
Pay discrimination, like many forms of discrimination, is a particularly sticky problem. In many instances, just as with other forms of discrimination, it is unrealistic to allocate all the blame and burden for its continued existence on a single actor, whether it be an employer or employee. Thus, the traditional civil rights regime in which an individual actor is held liable for the discrimination does a poor job of dealing with this problem. I propose an intervention – pay transparency – that would help prevent, root out, and correct the discrimination in the first place, instead of relying solely on after the fact blame and liability.

Pay transparency – the ability for employees to find out what other employees in their workplace make – is rare outside of public employment, and cultural norms against talking about one’s income may make it frightening to some readers. Yet, unlike many other approaches to reducing seemingly “blameless” discrimination, such as targeting unconscious discrimination, or potentially counterproductive “debiasing” efforts, incentivizing pay transparency can fit very comfortably within our legal framework. By turning pay transparency into an affirmative defense to pay discrimination claims, this preventive measure can be woven neatly into our current approach to civil rights enforcement and notions of individual responsibility.

Women and Men in the Public Sector

Source: Jeff Hayes, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), IWPR #Q001, September 2011

From the press release:
A new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), finds that women employees lost 81 percent (473,000) of the 581,000 jobs lost in the public sector since December 2008. Many of these jobs were lost at the local and state level where women in the public sector are most likely to be employed as elementary and middle school teachers.

At the local level between December 2008 and July 2011, the number of women in public sector employment decreased by 4.7 percent while the number of men decreased by only 1.6 percent. At the federal level in the same period, women employees saw a decrease of 3.2 percent in their ranks while the number of men employed actually increased by 5.3 percent, possibly due to increased employment in areas such as homeland security and civilian employment in the Department of Defense.

Wage Disparity Between Men and Women: Title VII and Lilly Ledbetter, Why the Court Was Wrong, and the Ramifications

Source: Amy. M. Ermie, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 37 no. 2, Autumn 2011

This article contends that discrimination and the timely filing requirement begin again at each discriminatory paycheck, and that the ruling in Ledbetter is adverse to the intentions of Title VII. Furthermore, Congress was justified in overruling the Supreme Court, and that by doing so, the legislature avoided the inevitable negative consequences that would have resulted from limiting an employee’s ability to seek redress for proven discrimination.

The Changing Face of U.S. Labor, 1983-2008

Source: John Schmitt and Kris Warner, Center for Economic and Policy Research, July 31, 2011

From the abstract:
In the early 1980s, over half of the unionized workforce were white men. Today, white men account for only about 38 percent of union workers. In the intervening years, the shares of women, Latinos, and Asian Pacific Americans in the total union workforce have surged, while African Americans have held a roughly steady share of the union workforce. Over the same period, union workers have also grown older and better educated and shifted out of manufacturing and into services, particularly into the public sector. Some of these developments reflect changes in the broader U.S. workforce, which today has more women, more Latinos, more Asian-Pacific Americans and is also older and more educated than in the past. Some of these trends, however, respond to particular issues affecting unions and the industries and occupations where they were historically concentrated.

What Is the Average Retirement Age?

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, IB#11-11, August 2011

From the abstract:
Since working longer is the key to a secure retirement for the vast majority of older Americans, it is useful to take a look at labor force trends for those under and over age 65 for the last century.

This brief proceeds in three steps. The first section describes the long-run decline in labor force participation of men. The second looks at the turnaround that began in the mid-1980s. The third section discusses the trends for women, which combine their increasing labor force activity, on the one hand, and incentives to retire, on the other.

Where Have All the Administrative Assistants Gone?

Source: Bryce Covert, Mike Konczal, GOOD, July 28, 2011

Since the recession technically ended in 2009, all of the weak growth in jobs has gone to men while women’s employment has declined. Men have gained 805,000 jobs, but women have lost a total of 281,000. The percentage of women who have a job hasn’t been this low since 1988. Cuts to state budgets help explain why women are falling behind: In the face of large budget shortfalls, women have lost 343,000 public-sector jobs, accounting for 70 percent of the cuts between June 2009 and June 2011. But while cuts to government workers explain much of the difference between recoveries for men and women, that’s only part of the story.

Six Key Facts on Women and Social Security

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Fact Sheet, IWPR # D498, June 2011

As research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and others shows, the current Social Security program is a mainstay for women. Fifty-seven percent of all beneficiaries aged 65 and older–including retirees, the disabled, and survivors of deceased workers–are women. Over 21 million women aged 65 and older receive Social Security checks each month.

Pension Crediting for Caregivers: Policies in Finland, France, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan

Source: Elaine Fultz, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IPWR # D497, June 2011

This report examines pension crediting for caregivers in seven countries. These credits are most often awarded to mothers of young children, but also to fathers, adult children, grandparents, or unrelated caregivers. They improve pension adequacy by compensating for periods of unpaid work during which the care provider makes limited or no pension contributions. The credits may help to establish pension eligibility, advance the date of retirement, improve the pension amount, or affect a combination of these. The countries examined here are Canada, Japan, and five members of the European Union (EU): Finland, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. While the credits are known by a variety of terms, this paper uses for the most part a single phrase: Pension Crediting for Caregivers, or PCC.

The analysis has three parts. Chapter 1 serves as background, describing the national contexts in which PCC occurs, the social objectives it is used to achieve, and the general parameters of PCC scheme designs. Chapter 2 describes variation in PCC features across the seven countries. Drawing on these comparisons, it considers the feasibility of achieving different policy purposes through the use of crediting, with particular reference to the United States, were it to establish PCC. Chapter 3 provides country-by-country descriptions of PCC systems, as well as some relevant features of the national pension systems and the labor markets in which they operate.

The Job Loss Tsunami of the Great Recession: Wave Recedes for Men, Not for Women

Source: Heidi Hartmann, Jeff Hayes, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Quick Facts, IWPR # Q008, July 2011

The Great Recession has been characterized by massive job loss for both women and men. It is as if a giant tsunami wave washed across the American economy and wiped millions of jobs away. As the wave recedes, people are attempting to rebuild their lives. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) new graphic shows that the tsunami has been both larger and longer lasting for men than for women, but that the recovery for men has at least begun, while women’s job growth has so far failed to take hold.
See also:
Monthly Number of Women and Men on Payrolls (Seasonally Adjusted), December 2007- June 2011
Source: Jeff Hayes, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Quick Facts, IWPR # Q005, July 2011

Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2010

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report 1031, July 2011

In 2010, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $669. Women earned 81 percent of the median weekly earnings of their male counterparts ($824). In 1979, the first year for which comparable earnings data are available, women earned 62 percent of what men earned. The women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio has been in the 80 to 81 percent range since 2004; prior to this time, the ratio had been gradually trending upward. (See chart 1 and tables 1 and 12.) This report presents earnings data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a national monthly survey of approximately 60,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Information on earnings is collected from one-fourth of the CPS sample each month. Readers should note that the comparisons of earnings in this report are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences. For a detailed description of the source of the data and an explanation of the concepts and definitions used, see the accompanying technical note.