In 2006, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $600, or about 81 percent of the $743 median for their male counterparts. This ratio has grown since 1979 (the first year comparable earnings data were available), when women earned about 63 percent as much as men.
Social Security was established nearly 70 years ago to provide a critical safety net to protect our most vulnerable citizens. Now, citing a fictitious “crisis,” President Bush wants to overhaul Social Security and change the way benefits are calculated and distributed, including having workers invest part of their contributions into private accounts. These proposals will severely undermine the Social Security safety net and disproportionately harm women and minorities. Social Security – the guaranteed foundation for most seniors’ retirement – must be strengthened, not whittled away.
The Social Security reform plan that President Bush is promoting would exacerbate those problems by diverting one-third of a worker’s Social Security contributions to private accounts. The result would be lower guaranteed benefits for ALL future retirees, regardless of whether they open individual private accounts. Lower benefits would cause great harm to women, who are much more likely than men to depend on Social Security’s guaranteed benefits to avoid poverty.
National Partnership for Women and Families: Social Security Page
From the press release:
WASHINGTON – A new fact sheet released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reports that nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of the best employers for working mothers provide four or fewer weeks of paid maternity leave, and half (52 percent) provide six weeks or less. Nearly half of the best companies fail to provide any paid leave for paternity or adoption. While more than one-quarter of the best companies (28 percent) provide nine or more weeks of paid maternity leave, many of the winners’ paid parental leave policies fall far short of families’ needs. IWPR’s analysis is based on data provided by Working Mother Media, publisher of Working Mother, regarding the 2006 list of Working Mother 100 Best Companies.
Women have made dramatic economic progress throughout the United States, especially since the 1960s. Yet, women have fared much better in some states than in others, and in no state do women fare as well economically as men. On several indicators, women have experienced important gains in the nearly two decades that the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has been tracking these data. For example, women are more likely than men to be employed in managerial or professional jobs and to have health insurance coverage. At the same time, women still earn less, are less likely to have a Bachelor’s or professional degree, or to own a business, and are more likely to live in poverty than men across the states. With median annual earnings of $31,800, women employed full-time, year-round in the United States still earn only 77.0 percent of what men earn. Of all civilian women aged 16 and older, only 59.2 percent are in the labor force, compared with 71.8 percent of men.
Recent decades have seen a revolution in women’s work, marked by gains in labor force participation, college study, occupations and entrepreneurship. A commitment to education and work suggests U.S. women will continue to fare better at work, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll match recent decades’ rate of progress.
The growth of their labor force participation has leveled off in recent years, suggesting the surge of women into the job market has run its course. Women’s share of business ownership has risen only modestly. With a large portion of today’s women already seeking higher education, further increases in the share of college graduates will come only slowly. Women approach or have achieved parity in many professions.
The past 50 years’ experience suggests, however, that U.S. women will respond to incentives and opportunities. They’ve shown a desire to channel their efforts into sectors and occupations that are likely to grow. It’s a good formula for further progress in the workplace.