Research News Roundup – January 2018

Retail Industry Meltdown Hits Women Hard; Men Remain Unscathed

By Laura Colby |  | 12.18.2017

As embattled U.S. retailers shed jobs over the past year, women have borne the brunt of the losses. Men, on the other hand, have made steady gains in the retail workforce. Women lost 129,000 retail positions in the last year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Men gained 106,000 positions. The report found that general-merchandise stores — mainly department stores — accounted for the largest share of both jobs lost and jobs gained. Women at those retailers lost 161,000 positions while men gained 87,800 from October 2016 to October 2017.

Citing: Decline in Retail Jobs Felt Entirely by Women by Jennifer Clark, Emma Williams-Baron, and Heidi Hartmann at Institute for Women’s Policy Research, December 2017

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Robots are going to turbo charge one of society’s biggest problems

By Lianna Brinded |  | 12.28.17

The greater adoption of robots in the workplace is heralded as a way to usher greater business efficiency, productivity, and better paid jobs, which in turn will boost the economy. However, the more jobs are automated, the more the gender wage gap will be exasperated, warns a think tank. […] [The report] warned that automation will widen the pay gaps for women and minorities since robots are likely to phase out lower-skilled jobs over the next few decades, and the jobs created in their place will be more highly skilled. Low-wage jobs are five times more likely to be automated than higher paid jobs, according to the report.

Citing: Managing automation: Employment, inequality and ethics in the digital age by Carys Roberts, Matthew Lawrence, and Loren King at The Progressive Policy Think Tank, December 2017

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Why Aren’t More Women and Minorities Studying Economics?

By Sharon Nunn |  | 12.01.2017

The economists guiding policies on everything from housing to health care disproportionately hail from one demographic group: white men. The pipeline that feeds the field is still proportionally lacking women and minorities, according to new research from the Federal Reserve. The imbalance is potentially harmful to the broader economy, the field of economics and students themselves.

Women made up about 30% of the nation’s economics majors, while minorities represent just 12%, according to the Fed study. Both numbers are significantly lower than the share of women and minorities who attend college. Women make up almost 58% of the student body and minorities represent about 21%.

Citing: The Unequal Distribution of Economic Education: A Report on the Race, Ethnicity, and Gender of Economics Majors at US Colleges and Universities by Amanda Bayer and David Wilcox at the Division of Research & Statistics and Monetary Affairs, Federal Reserve Board, December 2017

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“Gender gap” hurts small women-owned U.S. businesses

By Jonathan Spicer |  | 11.30.2017

A company is more likely to be denied funding and considered a higher credit risk if it is headed by a woman, according to a Federal Reserve report published on Thursday that shines some light on the so-called gender gap among small U.S. businesses. The 2016 survey showed a somewhat self-reinforcing cycle of women facing higher hurdles than men in not only securing loans but also in increasing profits, revenues and number of employees. Authors of the report by the U.S. central bank’s New York and Kansas City branches said it could help explain why the performance of majority women-owned companies has lagged in recent years, even while their numbers have grown much faster than businesses run by men. One-fifth of U.S. companies had female bosses in 2015.

Citing: 2016 Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Women-Owned Firms by the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Kansas City, November 2017

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Undervalued: A Brief History of Women’s Care Work and Child Care Policy in the United States

By Julie Vogtman | National Women’s Law Center | Decenber 2017

Today, more women are in the labor force than ever before, in a range of jobs far wider than their grandmothers might have imagined. Yet in the U.S., child care is largely still viewed as women’s work and—in contrast to nearly every other developed nation in the world—as a private responsibility rather than a public good. Undervalued: A Brief History of Women’s Care Work and Child Care Policy in the United States provides a brief overview of the state of child care in the United States and traces how—through the persistent denigration of the care work performed by women, especially women of color, and resulting public policy decisions—we arrived at this point. And it identifies the policy solutions that are needed to move toward a system that works for both families and child care providers.

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Financial Services Industry: Trends in Management Representation of Minorities and Women

Daniel Garcia-Diaz | U.S. Government Accountability Office | December 2017

Overall representation of minorities in first-, mid-, and senior-level management positions in the financial services industry increased from about 17 percent to 21 percent from 2007 through 2015. However, as shown in the figure below representation varied by race/ethnicity group and management level. Specifically, representation of African-Americans at various management levels decreased while representation of other minorities increased during this period. Overall representation of women was generally unchanged during this period. Representation of women among first- and mid-level managers remained around 48 percent and senior-level managers remained about 29 percent from 2007 through 2015.

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America’s Caregiving Crunch: Are Businesses Ready?

PL+US | December 2017

When most people think about the unmet need for paid leave in the United States, they think of new parents who need time to be with their infants, but just 21 percent of leaves from work are taken for new babies. Every year, more than 40 million people, or 18 percent of the U.S. population, spend an average of 24 hours a week providing unpaid care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member. The United States is the only industrialized country that does not guarantee paid family leave, which negatively impacts our health, our economy, our businesses, and our families. The lack of national paid family leave law means companies must create their own policies to meet the needs of their employees.

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Improving Job Quality for the Direct Care Workforce: A Review of State Policy Strategies

By Allison Cook| The Working Poor Families Project | December 2017

Direct care workers—including certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal care aides—provide most of the paid, hands-on care received by older adults and people with disabilities who require long-term care. As the demand for long-term care has increased due to the aging of the U.S. population, the direct care workforce has become one of the country’s largest occupations. This substantial workforce is essential to quality of care and life for older people and people with disabilities, yet direct care workers remain undervalued in our long-term care system. Direct care jobs are characterized by low pay, poor benefits, insufficient hours, and minimal training and advancement opportunities. In turn, these workers and their families often struggle to make ends meet.

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Paid Family and Medical Leave: Cost and Coverage Estimates of Three Choices in Massachusetts

By Randy Abelda and Alan Clayton-Matthews| Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy | December 2017

The birth of a child, a cancer diagnosis, a hip replacement, or serious illness of a parent, spouse or child. Each requires a worker to take an extended, but temporary, period of time off from work. Most workers will experience such an event at some point in their life. Yet the United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not have a national policy on paid maternity leave and remains an outlier among industrial counterparts without any guarantee of paid parental and medical leave. Currently, six states and Washington DC, however, have such paid family and medical leave (PFML) programs or have recently enacted them. Many other states have paid family and medical leave legislation under consideration, including Massachusetts. Paid family leave acknowledges the realities of today’s workforce in which many workers struggle to balance work and family, while paid medical leave reduces the economic risk of being out of work for a serious, but short-term, health condition by providing partial pay.

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