Not Just Equal Pay: The U.S. Women’s National Team’s Fight Underscores How an Equitable Economy Can Work for Everyone

USWNT Blog Graphic

By Mia Ogorchock, graphic by Nic Martinez

In the buzz surrounding the World Cup triumph of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT), “equal pay” has become a rallying cry, not just for the team, but for their fans. In March of this year, the USWNT filed a gender-discrimination suit against the United States Soccer Federation, Inc., citing unequal pay, training, and travel conditions, compared with the men’s team, despite bringing in higher revenue–and winning more games. Their fight is part of a bigger movement of women across industries advocating for better pay and safer workplaces, while confronting inadequate or outdated economic policies that shape how we live and work.

Women still make about 80.5 cents to every male dollar per year and the gap is even larger for women of color. Based on current trends, IWPR projects that women overall will not achieve pay equity until 2059, while Black women will wait one century (until 2119) and Hispanic women will wait more than two centuries (until 2224) until they reach equity with White men’s earnings.

As the USWNT begins their victory tour around the country, here is a look at the gender-equity policies that would not only narrow the gender wage gap, but would reconfigure the economy to work better for everyone.

Valuing Women’s Work

The call for equal pay for the USWNT—and for all women—has been echoed in op-eds in major news outlets and invoked by 2020 candidates, many of whom have made it a centerpiece to their platforms. For good reason: while there was significant progress in narrowing the wage gap in the 1980s and 1990s as more women entered the workforce and gained entry to many fields and jobs they had previously been excluded from, progress over the last two decades stalled. Women today still earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is enough data to calculate the wage gap.

Researchers find that over half of the wage gap can be explained by occupational segregation: women and men tend to work in different jobs and the jobs men tend to do pay more. The segregation is stark—four in ten (39 percent) working women work in female-dominated occupations and nearly half of men (48 percent) work in male-dominated occupations—and widespread, from staggering wage gaps in top-paying fields to greater concentration in jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

This segregation also affects how the economy values “women’s work.” Low-wage, female-dominated jobs pay less than male-dominated low-wage work, even when women’s jobs are very similar in requirements for education, skills, and stamina: janitors (two-thirds men) make $12.13 per hour, while maids and housekeepers (nearly 90 percent women) make $9.94 per hour. Furthermore, those who perform low-wage women’s work are about twice as likely to have a college degree than workers in male-dominated occupations—yet earn less. As jobs of the future become more digitalized, the trends are concerning: despite being more likely to work with computers and digital media than men, women face a 41 percent earnings gap on returns for their digital skills.

With half of U.S. families having a female breadwinner, the undervaluation of women’s work has real consequences for families, communities, and the economy as a whole. Pay parity would cut poverty in half for working families and add nearly half a trillion dollars in additional wage and salary income to the U.S. economy.

The disconnect between women’s skills and contributions and the gender gap in earnings is paralleled by the USWNT: while the team has qualified for (and won) multiple World Cups, the men’s team famously failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The men’s team is paid more for the games they win in the tournament, despite bringing in less revenue than the USWNT.

Improving Access to Paid Leave and Child Care Would Help Narrow the Wage Gap

In addition to ensuring that women have access to good jobs and high-paying fields, strengthening women’s attachment to the labor force is also key to narrowing the wage gap. We know from a large body of research that improving access to paid leave and affordable child care improves women’s labor force participation, which can in turn improve their earnings.

The earnings penalties for those who take time out of the labor force are high and increasing. For women, who still disproportionately shoulder the burden of care in their families, the effect can be a huge blow to the pocketbook: women who took just one year off during a 15-year period earned 39 percent less than women who did not take any time away from the paid labor force. That is why the gender wage gap as traditionally reported understates pay inequality: women make just half of what men make over a 15-year period

Many working families and single mothers lack access to paid family leave or childcare. Here too, we see parallels with the USWNT’s story: Jessica McDonald, the only mother on the US Women’s National team, has cited issues with paying for child care, including working several jobs at a time to pay for expensive childcare for her son. McDonald’s—and other working mothers’—ability to pursue a fulfilling job and provide for her family relies on being able to access and afford child care. Too many women are unable to do so: women are nine in ten of the workers who cut back paid work to care for children or family members.

As the experiences of the USWNT remind us, equal pay is not just about being paid the same—although that would help. Fighting for pay equality is about fighting for things like access to good jobs, investment in training and supports such as paid leave, child care, and other gender-equity policies that would improve the  economy and reduce inequality for everyone.

Research News Roundup

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS

Here’s the effect a $15 minimum wage has on jobs and poverty in low-income areas, according to a new study from Berkeley

James Wellemeyer │││July 9, 2019

A $15 an hour minimum wage won’t slash jobs in low-income areas, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, and it will also help to reduce poverty.

The study, conducted by Anna Godoey and Michael Reich, economists at UC Berkeley’s Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, suggests that a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024would not reduce employment rates, weekly hours worked, or annual weeks worked. The study notes that $15 an hour in 2024 is roughly equivalent to $13 an hour today.

Citing: “Minimum Wage Effects in Low-Wage Areas” by Anna Godoy and Michael Reich at Institute for Research on Labor and EmploymentJuly 2, 2019.

Read full article │Tweet This │Download PDF

60% of Tech Workers Told Not To Discuss Pay, Making Gender Gap Harder To Spot

Kim Elsesser │ │ July 11, 2019

According to the survey conducted by Blind, an anonymous social network for discussing workplace issues, 60% of the 5,149 respondents say that they have been discouraged by their human resources department or management from discussing salary information. And the situation isn’t changing much over time. Last year, a similar Blind survey also found that about 60% of employees had been discouraged from sharing data.

Citing: “Over 60% in Tech Told Not To Discuss Salary” by Curie Kim at BlindJuly 10, 2019

Read Full Article │Tweet This │Download PDF

Robots Are Coming for Our Jobs. Here’s Why Women Should be Even More Prepared

Khalida Sarwari │ │ July 17, 2019

As many as 160 million women around the world could lose their jobs over the next decade because of the impact of automation, and a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute shows that women will have a harder time adjusting to the automation of jobs and development of artificial intelligence than men.

Citing: “The Future of Women at Work: Transitions in the Age of Automation” at McKinsey Global Institute, June, 2019

Read Full Article │Tweet This│ Download PDF

Women are Now Seen as Equally Intelligent as Men, Study Finds

Alia E. Dastagir│  │ July 18, 2019

In the last 70 years, some gender stereotypes about women have shifted dramatically, while others remain firmly rooted, according to new research published in the American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association. The meta-analysis of 16 public opinion polls totaling more than 30,000 U.S. adults from 1946 to 2018 looked at three traits: competence (intelligence, creativity), communion (compassion, sensitivity) and agency (ambition, aggression).

Citing: “Gender Stereotypes Have Changed: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of U.S. Public Opinion Polls From 1946 to 2018” by Alice H. Eagly, Christa Nater, David I. Miller, Michèle Kaufmann, and Sabine Sczesny at American Psychologist Association, July, 2018

Read Full ArticleTweet ThisDownload PDF

New Technology Sparks More Worry for Black and Hispanic Workers

Jeff Green │  │July 24, 2019

Technology is definitely changing the workplace. Perspectives on whether that’s an opportunity or a threat depend a lot on racial identity, according to a new survey of 2,000 workers released Wednesday. Black and Hispanic workers are more concerned about new technology in the workplace compared with white or Asian workers, according to the survey. They were also less likely to say they saw efficiency gains.

Citing: “Racial Differences on the Future of Work: A Survey of the American Workforce” by Ismail White at Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, July 24, 2019

Read full article │Tweet this │Download PDF

 

NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

The Economic Effects of Abortion Access: A Review of the Evidence

Anna Bernstein and Kelly Jones │ Institute for Women’s Research │ July 18, 2019

This report reviews the available evidence of the economic effects of abortion access. By synthesizing high-quality research that estimates causal effects, this review highlights the relationship between abortion access and a number of economic outcomes, including women’s educational attainment, labor force participation, and other socioeconomic indicators for the next generation of men and women.

This report focuses on U.S.-based evidence, most of which relies on policy changes in the 1970s, but also includes a brief review of international evidence and an examination of the fertility effects of more recent changes to abortion access. The report closes with a discussion on policy implications, conclusions, and areas for future research, given the evidence on the causal relationship between abortion access and economic outcomes.

Download PDF │ Tweet This

Minimum Wage Effects in Low-Wage Areas

Anna Godoey and Michael Reich │Institute for Research on Labor and Employment │ July 2, 2019

A proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would increase the relative minimum wage – the ratio to the national median wage– to about .68. In Alabama and Mississippi, our two lowest-wage states, the relative minimum wage would rise to .77 and .85, respectively. Yet research on state-level minimum wage policies does not extend beyond $10; the highest studied state-level relative minimum wage is .59. To close this gap we study minimum wage effects in counties and PUMAs where relative minimum wage ratios already reach as high as .82. Using ACS data since 2005 and 51 events, we sort counties and PUMAs according to their relative minimum wages and bites. We report average results for all the events in our sample, and separately for those with lower and higher impacts. We find positive wage effects but do not detect adverse effects on employment, weekly hours or annual weeks worked.

Download PDF │ Tweet This

Feasibility Study and Evaluation of Non-Traditional Occupation Demonstrations

Carolyn Corea Luke Patterson, Manan Roy, and Neha Nanda │ United State Department of Labor│ July 28, 2019

The impact study found statistically significant positive effects in South Seattle on outcomes 2 (clicked on a link in an email) and 3 (completed an interest form). In New Mexico, the evaluation team observed a change in magnitude and direction of the impact estimates from negative and statistically significant for outcome 1 (opened the email) to nearly zero for outcome 3.1 Completion rates for the two exploratory outcomes—outcomes 4 (looked for more information) and 5 (enrolled in the program)—were low overall in the two demonstration sites as well as for both treatment and control groups within sites.

Download PDF│ Tweet This

The Future is Ours: Women, Automation and Equality in the Digital Age

Carys Roberts Henry Parkes, Rachel Statham, and Lesley Rankin │Institute for Public Policy Research │June 16, 2019

Automation will produce significant productivity gains that will reshape specific sectors and occupations. These gains are likely to be recirculated, with jobs reallocated rather than eliminated, economic output increased, and new sources of wealth created. The problem is likely to be one of how income and wealth are distributed. Automation could create a ‘paradox of plenty’: society would be far richer in aggregate, but, for many individuals and communities, technological change could reinforce inequalities of power and reward.

Download PDF │ Tweet This

Are Marriage-Related Taxes and Social Security Benefits Holding Back Female Labor Supply?

Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang│ The National Bureau of Economic Research│ July, 2019

In the U.S., both taxes and old age Social Security benefits depend on one’s marital status and tend to discourage the labor supply of the secondary earner. To what extent are these provisions holding back female labor supply? We estimate a rich life-cycle model of labor supply and savings for couples and singles using the Method of Simulated Moments (MSM) on the 1945 and 1955 birth-year cohorts and we use it to evaluate what would happen without these provisions. Our model matches well the life cycle profiles of labor market participation, hours, and savings for married and single people and generates plausible elasticities of labor supply. Eliminating marriage-related provisions drastically increases the participation of married women over their entire life cycle, reduces the participation of married men after age 55, and increases the savings of couples in both cohorts, including the later one, which has similar participation to that of more recent generations. If the resulting government surplus were used to lower income taxation, there would be large welfare gains for the vast majority of the population.

Download PDF │ Tweet This

A Unified Welfare Analysis of Government Policies

Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser│ Opportunity Insights │July 2019

We conduct a comparative welfare analysis of 133 historical policy changes over the past half-century in the United States, focusing on policies in social insurance, education and job training, taxes and cash transfers, and in-kind transfers. For each policy, we use existing causal estimates to calculate both the benefit that each policy provides its recipients (measured as their willingness to pay) and the policy’s net cost, inclusive of long-term impacts on the government’s budget. We divide the willingness to pay by the net cost to the government to form each policy’s Marginal Value of Public Funds, or it’s “MVPF”. Comparing MVPFs across policies provides a unified method of assessing their impact on social welfare.

Download PDF │ Tweet This

Research News Roundup – July 2019

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS 

Policy Research: College Promise Programs Are Excluding Student Parents

Pearl Stewart ││ June 27, 2019

Twenty percent of college students in the United States are raising children, yet the much-touted “free college” initiatives, also known as Promise programs, often “unintentionally exclude” these students when offering financial support, according to a briefing paper released this week by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).

The institute’s analysis pointed out various restrictions and requirements in the college Promise programs that exclude students who may be most in need of support. Among the more than 300 college Promise programs in 44 states, the majority exclude students over the age of 25 – making many students who have started families ineligible for Promise financial assistance, the Washington-based policy institute reported.

Citing: Making “Free College” Programs Work for College Students with Children by Tessa Hotlzman, Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, and Barbara Gault at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, June 25, 2019

Read Full ArticleTweet ThisDownload PDF

Report: Women’s Health Could Be Improved by Medicaid Expansion, Rural Health Investments

Johanna Cano│  │June 26, 2019

The report, completed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), analyzes data on women’s health including chronic disease, physical health and sexual health, among other indicators. [….] “While this report is called the ‘Status of Women,’ we know that improving the health and wellness of women in our state is not just a women’s issue, but rather an issue that is creating healthier families and communities, contributing to a stronger and healthier workforce and helping to grow the state’s economy,” said Machelle Sanders, N.C. Department of Administration secretary.

The report found that the health of women in the state has improved in some areas since a previous 2013 report, but in other areas, it has remained the same or worsened, particularly in rural counties, Sanders said.

Citing: Status of Women in North Carolina: Health and Wellness by Elyse Shaw and Adiam Tesfaselassie at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, June 25, 2019

Read Full ArticleTweet ThisDownload PDF

The Problem with Diversity in Computing

Ian Bogost ││ June 25, 2019.

At Google, for example, more than 95 percent of technical workers are white or Asian. Adding more black engineers from Atlanta schools to that mix will certainly help push the numbers up incrementally. It will also give more people of color access to the economic opportunities the tech industry offers. But there’s a risk of tokenization; inviting a black man or a curly-haired woman into the room could make a difference in the design of the systems that produced Webb’s experience at airport security. But it probably won’t substantially change the thrust of the tech industry as it currently operates.

Citing: Google Diversity Annual report 2019 at Google

Read Full ArticleTweet thisDownload PDF

Lack of Medicaid Coverage Blocked 29 Percent of Abortion Seekers from Getting the Procedure, Study Says

Anna North ││ June 20, 2019

But amid this debate, there’s been a lack of up-to-date research on what actually happens to pregnant people when they want an abortion but their insurance won’t cover it. To answer that question, researchers at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a group at the University of California San Francisco, surveyed pregnant women in Louisiana on whether they had ever considered abortion. For those who considered the procedure but didn’t have one, researchers asked if lack of Medicaid coverage was part of the reason why. The research, published on Wednesday in the journal BMC Women’s Health, was provided to Vox exclusively ahead of publication.

Citing: Estimating the proportion of Medicaid-Eligible Pregnant Women in Louisiana Who Do Not Get Abortion When Medicaid Does Not Cover Abortion by Sarah Roberts, Nicole Johns, Valerie Williams, Erin Wingo and Ushma Upadhyay at BMC Women’s Health, May, 2019

Read Full ArticleTweet ThisDownload PDF

No Rest for the Workers: How the US is Out of Step on Paid Leave

Mona Chalabi ││ June 18, 2019

Of the 21 wealthiest countries, the US is the only one not to guarantee workers paid leave, according to a recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research which dubbed it “no vacation nation”.

Citing: No-Vacation Nation, Revised by Adewale Maye at Center for Economic and Policy Research, May, 2019.

Read Full ArticleTweet ThisDownload PDF

NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

A Women-Centered Economic Agenda: 8 Policies that Boost the Economy and Work for Everyone

Elyse Shaw and Heidi Hartmann │Institute for Women’s Policy Research│ June 20, 2019

Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.

This fact sheet outlines eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures.

Download PDFTweet This

Access to Paid Sick Time in Bernalillo County, New Mexico

Kimberly Mckee, Jeff Hayes and Jessica Milli│ Institute for Women’s Policy Research │June 18, 2019

Approximately 35 percent of workers living in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, lack paid sick time, and among those, low-income and part-time workers are especially unlikely to be covered. Access to paid sick time promotes safe and healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness and preventing workplace injuries. It also reduces health care costs and supports children and families by helping parents to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities. This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick time in Bernalillo County by sex, race and ethnicity, occupation, part/full-time employment status, and personal earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2015–2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS).

Download PDFTweet This

Paid Family Leave and Breastfeeding: Evidence from California

Jessica Pac, Ann Bartel, Christopher Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel | The National Bureau of Economics Research | April 2019

This paper evaluates the effect of Paid Family Leave (PFL) on breastfeeding, which we identify using California’s enactment of a 2004 PFL policy that ensured mothers up to six weeks of leave at a 55 percent wage replacement rate. We employ synthetic control models for a large, representative sample of over 270,000 children born between 2000 and 2012 drawn from the restricted-use versions of the 2003 – 2014 National Immunization Surveys. Our estimates indicate that PFL increases the overall duration of breastfeeding by nearly 18 days, and the likelihood of breastfeeding for at least six months by 5 percentage points. We find substantially larger effects of PFL on breastfeeding duration for some disadvantaged mothers.

Download PDFTweet This

Young Workers in Nonstandard Work Arrangements, 2005-2017

Aaron Medlin and Hye Jin Rho │ Center for Economic and Policy Research │June 24, 2019

Washington DC — Millennials and Gen X workers are overwhelmingly opting for standard permanent jobs in a business directed by an employer. Only 1.0 percent of young workers are engaged in electronically mediated, or gig, work.

This is the main finding of Young Workers in Nonstandard Work Arrangements, 2005 – 2017, published today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). More specifically, a majority of young workers, ages 21–25, with and without a college degree, are in standard work arrangements and are more likely to hold such jobs compared to the workforce as a whole. The much-hyped growth of the gig economy cannot be found in the 2017 survey of nonstandard work arrangements.

Download PDFTweet This

Paid Family Care Leave: A Missing Piece in the U.S. Social Insurance System

Jane Waldfogel and Emma Liebman │ Washington Center for Equitable Growth │June 10, 2019

Paid family and medical leave includes several distinct types of leave. Medical leave is taken from work to care for one’s own serious illness, but family leave encompasses several distinct types of leave, including leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child (generally referred to as parental leave), as well as leave to care for a family member with a serious illness, whether that be a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or other relative. This latter type of leave is our definition of family care leave—the focus of this report.

Download PDFTweet This

The Long-Term Impacts of Girl-Friendly Schools: Evidence from the BRIGHT School Construction Program in Burkina Faso

Nicholas IngwersenHarounan KaziangaLeigh L. LindenArif MamunAli Protik, and Matthew SloanThe National Bureau of Economic Research │ June, 2019

We evaluate the long-term effects of a “girl-friendly” primary school program in Burkina Faso, using a regression discontinuity design. Ten years later, primary school-age children in villages selected for the program attend school more often and score significantly higher on standardized tests. We also find long-term effects on academic and social outcomes for children exposed earlier in the program. Secondary-school–age youths and young adults (those old enough to have finished secondary school) complete primary and secondary school at higher rates and perform significantly better on standardized tests. Women old enough to have completed secondary school delay both marriage and childbearing.

Download PDFTweet This

IWPR Research News Roundup – June 2019

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS 

Automation Could Force Millions of Women to Find New Jobs

Eric Morath │ │June 4, 2019

The study, released Tuesday, shows technological advancements affect the genders nearly evenly. That finding upends the notion that automation hits predominantly male manufacturing workers the hardest. Emerging automation technologies will look different and displace a large number of women, said Mekala Krishnan, fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute and one of the report’s authors. Advancements could take the form of Alexa-like virtual assistants replacing clerical tasks, wider adoption of cashierless checkouts and artificial intelligence replacing customer-service workers at call centers. And that technology could change the jobs done by women in the way robotic arms in factories put downward pressure on mostly male manufacturing jobs in the U.S. in recent decades.

Citing: The Future of Women at Work by Mckinsey Global Institute, June, 2019

Read Full Article │Tweet this │Download PDF

Americans Want Diversity in the Workplace but are Skeptical About How to Get it 

By Catherine Kim |  | May 9, 2019

A majority of Americans think companies should encourage diversity in the workplace — but they’re much more skeptical about the methods businesses could use to ensure they’re hiring a diverse group of employees […] Yet only 24 percent said race and ethnicity should be taken into consideration in decisions about hiring and promotion. In contrast, 74 percent said only qualifications should be taken into account — even if it resulted in less diversity.

Citing: Americans See Advantages and Challenges in Country’s Growing Racial and Ethnic Diversity by Juliana Menasce Horowitz at Pew Research Center, May 8th, 2019

Read full Article │Tweet This │Download PDF

Women Choose More Precise Words than Men when Applying for Grant Funding, but Guess Who’s More Successful? 

Meera Jagannathan ││ May 8, 2019

Women scientists are less likely to win funding for grants, even when they’re evaluated anonymously, according to a recent working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The apparent driving force: Women’s penchant for using “narrow” words in their grant proposals, versus men’s tendency toward “broad” words.

Citing:  Is Blinded Review Enough? How Gendered Outcomes Arise Even Under Anonymous Evaluation by Julian Kolev, Yuly Fuentes-Medel, and Fiona Murray at The National Bureau of Economic Research

Read full Article │ Tweet This │ Download PDF

New Fed Survey Finds Americans in Better Financial Shape as Expansion Continues

Steve Goldstein ││ May 23, 2019

A new survey of American household finances finds economic well-being is getting better, despite a flurry of headlines to the contrary. The Federal Reserve said Thursday that 61% of those surveyed for its annual report on the economic well-being of U.S. households said they could pay an unexpected expense of $400 with either cash, savings or a credit card paid off at the next statement. That’s up from just half in 2013.

Citing: Report on the Economics Well-Being of U.S Households in 2018 by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, May 23, 2019

Read Full Article │Tweet This │Download PDF

Fighting the Gender Stereotypes That Warp Biomedical Research

JoAnna Klein│  │May 30, 2019

In 2016, the National Institutes of Health and its Canadian counterpart mandated all preclinical research they fund must include female subjects. Now, Dr. Shansky and other scientists wonder if that requirement will do enough to improve how research is conducted [..] In an essay published Thursday in Science, Dr. Shansky questions whether simply adding female organisms to experiments or looking for sex differences misses the point. She warns that this is a public health problem — with implications beyond neuroscience — and says scientists should design experiments better suited to both biological sexes.

Citing: Are Hormones a “Female Problem” for Animal Research? By Rebecca M. Shansky at Science, May 30, 2019

Read Full Article│ Tweet This│ Download PDF 

How many Americans Live on $2 a Day? The Biggest Debate in Poverty Research, Explained

Daylan Matthews │ │June 5, 2019

For much of the last decade, Princeton sociologist Kathryn Edin and University of Michigan social policy researcher Luke Shaefer have been using survey data to argue that a significant and rising share of American children live in households earning less than $2 in cash income per person. […]. But since their research started circulating, some economists and sociologists have pushed back, arguing that the Edin and Shaefer’s research — which relied on surveys — underestimated the support very poor households get from welfare programs that provide benefits “in kind” rather than through cash. […]  The most comprehensive response to date — by University of Chicago professor Bruce Meyer, his colleagues Derek Wu and Victoria Mooers, and the Census Bureau’s Carla Medalia — has just been publicly released, and concludes that true $2-a-day poverty, after adjusting the data properly, is extremely rare.

Citing: The Use and Misuse of Income Data and Extreme Poverty in the United States by Bruce D. Meyer, Derek Wu, Victoria R. Mooers, and Carla Medalia at The National Bureau of Economic Research, May, 2019

Read full Article │Tweet This │Download PDF

 

NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

Bridging Systems for Family Economic Mobility: Postsecondary and Early Education Partnerships

Barbara Gault and Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, and Rachel Schumacher│ Institute for Women’s Research │May 30, 2019

Promoting family economic security and mobility requires collaboration across key systems that serve families. This report describes opportunities for the early childhood and higher education systems to support each other’s key goals for system advancements to increase economic mobility among America’s families. It provides examples of early education/higher education partnerships at multiple levels that use a variety of funding sources, and that often benefit from leaders and champions who understand the importance of addressing families’ postsecondary and early education needs in an integrated fashion. It also provides a set of principles and recommendations for establishing effective partnerships, informed by the guiding voices of parents.

Download PDF │Tweet This

Closing the Gender Pay Gap: What Role for Trade Unions?

Jill Rubery and Mathew Johnson │International Labour Organization│April 2019

This report considers the current and potential role for trade unions in closing the gender pay gap which has become one of the symbols of progress towards gender equality. Not only have governments, trade unions and employers publicly resolved to close the gender pay gap; the commitment has also been internationally endorsed by various international organizations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO). Notably there has been the recent formation of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), led by the ILO, UN Women and the OECD, to help progress the commitment towards equal pay for work of equal value within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Goal 8.5). These commitments are supported by ILO’s international labour standards (ILS), most directly Convention 100 on Equal Remuneration, and by the ILO 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work that focuses attention on the commitment to eliminate discrimination in the world of work

Download PDF │Tweet This

Paid Family and Breastfeeding: Evidence from California

Pac, Bartel, Ruhm & Waldfogel | The National Bureau of Economics Research | April 2019

This paper evaluates the effect of Paid Family Leave (PFL) on breastfeeding, which we identify using California’s enactment of a 2004 PFL policy that ensured mothers up to six weeks of leave at a 55 percent wage replacement rate. We employ synthetic control models for a large, representative sample of over 270,000 children born between 2000 and 2012 drawn from the restricted-use versions of the 2003 – 2014 National Immunization Surveys. Our estimates indicate that PFL increases the overall duration of breastfeeding by nearly 18 days, and the likelihood of breastfeeding for at least six months by 5 percentage points. We find substantially larger effects of PFL on breastfeeding duration for some disadvantaged mothers.

Download PDF │Tweet This

Status of Older Workers

The New School Retirement Equity Lab │ May 1, 2019

Older workers experienced almost no real wage growth since 2007, despite record low unemployment rates. In the first quarter of 2019, median real weekly earnings of full-time workers ages 55 to 64 were only 0.8% higher than in the first quarter of 2007, the peak of the business cycle. In contrast, weekly earnings for prime-age workers ages 35 to 54 grew 4.7%. In prior business cycles, older workers’ earnings grew at similar or greater rates than wages of prime-age workers.

Download PDF | Tweet This

Gendered Accountability: When and Why do Women’s Policy Priorities Get Implemented?

 Valeriya Mechkova and Euth Carlitz │ V-Dem Institute │May 2019

The past two decades have seen dramatic increases in women occupying positions of political power. Such developments have been welcomed as a means of achieving better outcomes for women in their everyday lives. We interrogate this proposition, developing a “gendered accountability” framework to the delineate conditions under which female representation should have its desired effects. Our empirical analysis applies this framework to sub-Saharan Africa, home to the largest increase in women’s political representation in recent years. We find that having more women in the legislature is robustly associated with reduced infant and child mortality as well as greater spending on health. The effect on infant mortality is magnified when women are more active in civil society, and constrained to countries that have gender quotas and a proportional electoral system. We do not, however, find consistent evidence that maternal mortality and access to clean water respond to female representation.

Download PDFTweet This

Passing the Torch: News from IWPR

Passing the Torch: News from IWPR

Dear Supporters and Friends,

With great appreciation for your support and friendship over the last 30 plus years, I am writing to let you know that I will be transitioning out of the role of president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) later this year. Leading IWPR has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, due in large part to the many allies who have been collaborators, funders, users, and reporters of IWPR’s work. I am grateful for your friendship and inspired by the progress we have made together.

I founded IWPR in 1987 out of a need for an organization that provided rigorous data analysis and quality research on women’s policy issues, a role that other research institutes and think tanks have brought to successful policy movements on the environment, labor, the economy, and others. My goal then was to build a lasting institution that could drive progress on many of the issues that the women’s movement had organized around—equal pay, paid and unpaid leave, affordable child care, and others—and many issues that shape women’s lives but had yet to be explored. I am grateful to the founding members of IWPR, who each pledged $100 or more for three years, to help set up an institute dedicated to gender issues at a time when few mainstream funders were interested in doing so.

This is a propitious time to pass the torch to the next visionary leader of IWPR, not only for IWPR, but also for the policymakers and advocates who rely on our research and analysis. IWPR has grown substantially since its founding, now housing three research centers: on equity in higher education, on the health and economic benefits of work-family policies, and on the economics of reproductive health. The national policy conversation now regularly tackles issues of gender, race, and ethnicity and needs more reliable data and information than ever before. It is a time when IWPR can help to meet this increased demand.

I am most proud of our top-notch team. Our research staff—made up of an interdisciplinary group of experts on economics, sociology, education, and public policy—identifies and tracks what I like to call the “next policy frontier,” developing a body of research on such issues as the economic costs of sexual harassment, students who are also parents and struggle to complete degrees, and the risks of automation to women and people of color, topics that will shape national and international policy conversations for years to come. Our outstanding staff teams in administration, communications, and development help us tell our story and ensure that our organization is as strong as our research methodologies.

Our board of directors has always provided committed and supportive leadership to me and our staff members.  They understood that it would take a herculean effort to ensure that a small startup could enter the ranks of top think tanks in Washington, DC, and were with us every step of the way. I know they will not let up their vigilance and support as IWPR continues to be heard on important issues, grows sustainably, and achieves its goals.

While I will be stepping back from the day-to-day role as president, I will not be riding off into the sunset.  Since I first founded IWPR, we have progressed as a society in increasing our attention to women’s issues and the experiences of women of diverse backgrounds, but much work on changing outdated policies remains to be done. I look forward to sharing more details about what’s next for me later this year and to continuing our work together. In the meantime, thank you for being a part of this journey with me—it’s been a great ride.

With appreciation,

heidiheidi

Founder & President

 

Dear colleagues,

As chair of the IWPR Board of Directors, it is my impossible task to express our appreciation for Heidi Hartmann’s legacy of achievement at IWPR. Her founding vision for IWPR was to create an organization dedicated to applying rigorous research and analysis to women’s policy issues. Now, 32 years later, this vision has led to real progress for women.

In 1987, the year IWPR was founded, where some saw public policies not changing quickly enough to address the needs of the rapidly growing numbers of working women, Heidi saw opportunity. Many lawmakers were eager to have women-focused, policy research that could make the case for sensible solutions, like family and medical leave. Meanwhile, women’s advocacy groups were standing at the ready to support such policy proposals, and universities were training and graduating more women scholars with excellent social science research skills. IWPR brought these separate networks together to inform and shape policy change.

Since then, IWPR’s research has informed national legislation such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Our Status of Women in the States reports, dating from 1996, have brought IWPR’s work to every state and many cities and regions where reports have sparked policy discussions and campaigns for new laws, brought attention to local researchers and groups, and made the case for millions of dollars in additional funding for domestic violence and child care programs across the nation. Under Heidi’s leadership, IWPR has truly changed women’s lives through research. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude for organizing this new endeavor and bringing it to its present state of usefulness and excellence.

We are excited to launch a national search for IWPR’s next visionary leader. Policymakers, advocates, and the media are increasingly looking at policy issues through gendered and racial lenses, requiring more data analysis and research disaggregated by gender and race as well as in new subject areas that have been ignored. I truly believe that there is no research institute better prepared to inform policies that affect women’s lives than IWPR.

You—our closest supporters and partners—are the first to hear about this exciting next chapter for IWPR. In the next few days, we will be sharing more details about what we are looking for in our next leader. We hope you will help us find an inspiring, pragmatic, resourceful, and flexible leader who has a deep understanding of public policy issues affecting women and of research techniques that can illuminate those issues.

We have enlisted the help of Koya Leadership Partners to help us with the presidential search. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please share them with Turner Delano at Koya (tdelano@koyapartners.com) or through this form.

Thank you for your trusted partnership,

lorretta picLorretta sig2

Chair of the Board, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

Top 10 Findings of 2018

Top 10 Findings of 2018

IWPR’s annual year in review compiles our top findings from our new research released over the last year. In addition to producing forward-thinking research that once again landed us on the list of Top Think Tanks in the United States, IWPR also saw many exciting developments as our research capacity has grown and expanded this past year.

In January, we announced a new partnership with American University’s Program on Gender Analysis in Economics to collaborate on gender-focused research relevant for public policy. In November, IWPR and AU hosted a sold-out conference, Pathways to Gender Equality, which featured Janet Yellen and AU’s President Sylvia Mathews Burwell, as well as other leading economists and scholars using a gender lens and an intersectional frame in their research. Advocates and policymakers also joined researchers in presenting at the conference.

IWPR also launched two new Centers in 2018—the Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, and a Policies 4 Action Research Hub, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, established jointly with UC-Berkeley, on the health effects of work-family policies—reflecting new and ongoing commitment by IWPR to critical issues that will shape policy affecting women in the coming years.

Read and share our top findings from 2018 below and stay tuned for exciting new research on women and the future of work, the health effects of paid family and medical leave, the economic impact of access to reproductive health care, and more in 2019.

 

  1. Women earn just half of what men earn across 15 years

An IWPR study of earnings and labor force participation released in November finds that women today earn just 49 cents to the typical man’s dollar when accounting for overall labor force participation across 15 years, which is much less than the 80 cents usually reported. The findings indicate that improving access to paid leave and affordable child care is critical to strengthening women’s labor force attachment and narrowing the long-term gender earnings gap (along with stronger enforcement of equal opportunity and equal pay policies).

Find other resources from IWPR on Pay Equity & Discrimination, including the impact of occupational segregation and the differences in earnings for women of color.

 

  1. 2 in 3 survivors of intimate partner violence say their partner’s behavior negatively affected their educational and job training opportunities.

Results from an IWPR survey of 164 survivors of intimate partner violence (nearly all women) found that abusers coerce pregnancy and keep women from working or attending college. The report includes quotes illuminating how the economic dimensions of abuse permeate survivors’ lives, from their education and career goals to the dreams they have for their family’s safety and security. As one survivor said, “I fantasize about having a well-furnished, cozy home for my children and me…the ability to always provide. I want a cozy, happy life so bad it hurts.”

 

  1. 3 in 4 families headed by single mothers in the United States do not have enough income to meet their basic monthly expenses.

In October, IWPR released the first comprehensive update, since 2014, to the Basic Economic Security Tables (BEST) Index, which details how much income working adults of different family types need to be economically secure in each state and county in the United States. New national and state-by-state data find that one in three U.S. working adults does not have enough income to meet their basic monthly expenses—such as housing, food, transportation, and child care expenses—and save for emergencies and retirement. People of color and families headed by single mothers are more likely to experience economic insecurity.

  • Find data on economic security in your state or for the nation overall at org/BEST.
  • Read about the findings in Marketwatch, “This is exactly how much families must earn in each state to afford housing, child care and food”

 

  1. Campus child care may triple graduation rates among single mothers, who face massive time challenges to college success

IWPR’s time use analysis found that single mothers in college spend the equivalent of a full work day (9 hours) on child care and housework each day and more time in paid employment than women students without children. Only eight percent of single mothers who enroll in two- or four-year programs graduate with a degree within six years. The paper also includes new analysis of student parent data from Monroe Community College (MCC) in Rochester, NY, showing that parents of young children who used MCC’s on-campus child care center had an on-time graduation rate that was more than three times higher than similar parents who did not access the center.

Student Parents by the Numbers Graphic 2017.JPG

  • Read the briefing paper, Time Demands of Single Mother College Students and the Role of Child Care in their Postsecondary Success.
  • Read coverage of the new analysis in Think Progress: “More single moms are enrolled in classes than ever before. Why aren’t colleges accommodating them?,” as well as in The Atlantic, NPR, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed.
  • Research on campus child care and student parents informs first budget increase ever for federal program that helps provide access to affordable child care for student parents. In March 2018, Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS)program received a big boost in the omnibus spending bill, which more than tripled funding for the program to $50 million, the first increase in the program’s budget ever and highest appropriated funding the program has ever received. The program had originally been identified for budget cuts in the Administration’s FY2018 budget before receiving a proposed modest budget increase in the FY2019 budget request, which cited IWPR’s research on single mothers in college.

 

  1. Single mothers who complete a bachelor’s degree earn $610,300 more over their lifetimes and are 69 percent less likely to live in poverty than single mothers with only high school diplomas.

IWPR’s analysis, which is the first of its kind, finds that public or institutional investments in services, such as child care and case management, boost graduation rates and more than pay for themselves through graduates’ increased tax contributions and reduced public benefits. But access to these benefits must be improved; currently, only 8 percent of single mothers who enroll in two- or four-year programs graduate with a degree within six years.

  • Read the studyInvesting in Single Mothers’ Higher Education: Costs and Benefits to Individuals, Families, and Society.
  • Read the quick figure, “Single Mothers with College Degrees Much Less Likely to Live in Poverty”
  • Read coverage of the analysis in MarketWatch, “Single mothers who graduate college earn $600,000 more over their lifetimes,” in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, “Campus Child Care Critical in Raising Single Mothers’ Graduation Rates,” and in the Higher Ed Innovation Roundup in Inside Higher Ed.

 

  1. Women-owned businesses have less access to capital, fewer intellectual property rights, and much lower revenues.

In July, IWPR release a pair of reports exploring how women-owned businesses are less likely than businesses owned by men to hold intellectual property rights such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The analysis, which relies on data from the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, also finds that women-owned businesses are less likely to receive venture capital and more likely to rely on credit cards and home equity loans for funding, and receive less than half the revenues of businesses owned by men. In a second report, IWPR profiled promising programs around the United States working to increase gender and racial/ethnic diversity in patenting, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

  • On July 24, the Innovation Alliance hosted the Capitol Hill briefing, “Diversity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: The Importance of Intellectual Property to Women and Persons of Color-Owned Businesses,” with presentations from Jessica Milli and Elyse Shaw and remarks from Representative Alma Adams of North Carolina.
  • Read coverage of the reports in MarketWatch, Bloomberg, and Fast Company.
  • On October 31, President Trump signed into law the bipartisan SUCCESS Act. Part of the law directs the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in consultation with the Small Business Administration, to conduct a study of the impact of the patent gaps in gender, race and veteran status on small businesses and entrepreneurship, and make recommendations to Congress for ways to close the gaps. Further study on patenting among underrepresented groups was a key policy recommendation from IWPR’s research.

 

  1. Burgeoning demand for care workers has not resulted in improved job quality or availability of care

The U.S. market for care workers is adapting slowly to the increasing need for elder care and the unmet need for child care, according to an IWPR report released in June. The number of care workers grew 19 percent from 2005 to 2015, but low wages and poor working conditions in the care workforce threaten the quality and availability of care.

Care workers are predominantly female and the industry has become more diverse over the past decade, with especially large increases in the share of male workers, Hispanic and multiracial workers, and naturalized citizens and foreign-born non-citizens. Care workers have growing levels of education attainment, but the percent of care workers who were poor or near poor remained relatively unchanged between 2005 and 2015, especially among women. Overall, care workers have experienced stagnant, or in many cases declining, wages over the past decade.

  • Read the report, The Shifting Supply and Demand of Care Work: The Growing Role of People of Color and Immigrants.
  • Read the one-pager, “Care workers in the United States: Where are we and where are we going?”
  • Watch the video produced by IWPR and Caring Across Generations, “Universal Family Care for a 21st Century Workforce.”
  1. Unions can boost Hispanic women’s earnings by nearly 50%

IWPR research shows that women benefit from unionization, with unionized women earning $219 more per week, or 30 percent more, than non-unionized women. Women of color are especially likely to benefit from the collective bargaining power of labor unions: Non-union Hispanic women have the lowest earnings of any racial/ethnic group of women, at $565 weekly, but Hispanic women in unions earn $264 more weekly than those who do not have access to collective bargaining.

graph 1

  • Read the fact sheet, “The Union Advantage for Women.”
  • In June, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5-4 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that will weaken the collective bargaining power of unions by barring public sector unions from collecting fair-share fees from workers who benefit from union representation. Read IWPR President Heidi Hartmann’s statementon the decision.
  • Read coverage of the findings in HuffPost (“The War On Women Is Already Here”) and Refinery29(“The Supreme Court’s Janus Ruling Is A Blow To Black Women”).

 

  1. Paid leave insurance program, such as the FAMILY Act, would provide vital benefits at affordable cost

On the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), IWPR released updated estimates showing that implementing the proposed Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) would cost less than half of one percent of taxable payroll, while extending access to the economic, health, and social benefits of paid leave to millions of Americans.

  • Read the blog post from IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann and Jeff Hayes, “25 Years after FMLA: Research Finds that Paid Leave is a Great Investment”
  • In October, IWPR and UC-Berkeley announced the launch of a new joint research hub to explore the health effects of paid leave policies, minimum wage laws, state and federal tax benefits, and more.

 

  1. Direct and indirect costs of workplace sexual harassment can impact women’s lifetime earnings, employment opportunities, and overall well-being.

In the recent wave of headlines on sexual harassment, IWPR’s experts and research have informed coverage of this issue from many angles: women in low-wage jobs (Al Jazeera and Vox), women on Wall Street (The New Yorker and Vanity Fair) and how the pay gap and sexual harassment are two sides of the same coin (ThinkProgress, TIME, and Refinery29). In October, IWPR released a briefing paper compiling available social science and policy research on what we know about the costs of sexual harassment—to women, employers, and society.

  • Read the briefing paper, Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Understanding the Costs.
  • Read the one-pager, “Women in Construction: #MeToo in the Building Trades?”
  • In January, IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann joined Bloomberg’s Benchmark podcast to discuss the sexual harassment reckoning in the field of economics. Read her piece with AU’s Mieke Meurs in Ms. Magazine, “Diversifying the Field of Economics is Critical to Achieving Gender Equality.”

 

Bonus: Paid sick days in Austin would save the city’s businesses $4.5 million per year.

In February, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance to require the city’s employers to provide paid sick days. The ordinance’s historic passage makes Austin, Texas, the first city in the South to guarantee paid sick days to workers. IWPR’s research on access to paid sick days in Austin and the costs and benefits of implementing the proposed ordinance informed city policymakers and coalitions, led by Work Strong Austin. IWPR study director Jessica Milli testified before the council on IWPR’s analysis.

Covering Small Businesses in Paid Leave

By Jeff Hayes, Ph.D.

Whether to cover all employers or to exclude small employers from coverage is a frequent topic that emerges during discussions about policies to expand access to worker leave for family and medical needs. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) excludes those working for employers of less than 50 within a 75 mile radius. This restriction is one of the primary reasons that the FMLA excludes about two in five workers in the United States from job protected unpaid leave up to 12 weeks in length. (Another reason is its requirement that workers have one full year of tenure with the same employer working more than half-time (at least 1,250 hours that year).

Access to paid leave varies widely by employer size (Table 1):

  • Overall, 71 percent of private sector employees have access to paid sick leave, ranging from 62 percent of those working in establishments with fewer than 50 employees to 87 percent for those working in establishments with 500 or more employees.
  • Sixteen percent of private sector workers have access to paid family leave, ranging from 12 percent of those working in establishments with fewer than 50 employees to 25 percent for those working in establishments with 500 or more employees.
  • Temporary disability insurance (TDI) that can usually be used for maternity leave is available to 42 percent of private workers, varying from 28 percent of those working in establishments with fewer than 50 employees to 63 percent for those working in establishments with 500 or more employees.

Table 1: Distribution of Employment and Paid Leave Benefit Access Rates by Establishment Size, Private Employers.

table 2 paid leave

Source: *Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, First Quarter 2018. **National Compensation Survey, March 2018.

These data tell us that if a state excludes small businesses with 1-49 workers from a requirement to participate in a paid leave program, then the state will also exclude 42 percent of its workforce from paid leave benefits (depending on the particular size distribution of firms in the state).

While it is important to provide opportunities for small businesses to thrive and grow, their employees also need the protections and benefits of paid leave for their own serious health conditions, parental leave for new children, and caring for family members. Several states have passed family and medical leave laws expanding job protection to those employed in establishments with fewer than 50 employees.

Since 2006, when San Francisco adopted the first paid sick days law, more than 45 states, counties, and cities have adopted policies that take the form of employer mandates requiring employers to provide a minimum number of days of leave for most workers. The workers earn leave according to a formula and benefits are expected to reflect their usual wages when leave is used. Many of these laws make distinctions based on the number of employees in the establishment in terms of the number of days that can be earned and accumulated in a year. For example, the San Francisco paid sick days ordinance allows workers to earn one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours of paid work, accumulating a maximum of nine days in firms with 10 or more employees and five days in smaller firms, for their own health needs, as well as those of other family members (including a “designated person” or chosen family).

In contrast, none of the five states that have programs for paid family and medical leave explicitly exclude employers from coverage based on their number of employees. Most of these programs have been set up as social insurance programs, and they aim for more universal benefits (these state programs were established between 1942 and 1969, with family leave implemented as add-ons between 2004 and 2013).

In the majority of states, workers pay all or the majority of the insurance premiums; therefore, it makes sense that the leave benefits are portable and can move with the workers as they switch jobs within their states, without worry about which employers are covered and which are not. There are other small differences among the five state programs:

  • Some states, like California and New Jersey historically allowed employers to use private coverage for the TDI (medical leave) portion of their programs, but the state insurance plan is predominant.[i]
  • Other states, like New York, encourage use of private insurance companies but have a state fund as back up.[ii]
  • Only Hawaii requires all employers to use private insurance to provide TDI, so it is universal like social insurance, but in the form of a mandate on employers.
  • Rhode Island is pure social insurance (no employer can opt out by using a private insurance company or self-insuring) and the workers pay the entire premium.

Of these five states, all but Hawaii have added paid family leave, for all size employers, for lengths of benefit receipt from 4 to 12 weeks.  All programs have a one week waiting period before benefits are applied to a covered absence from work.[iii]

Some of the more recent laws to pass include special provisions to help smaller employers meet their obligations under the new policy, but their workers are not denied benefit coverage. While most Americans understand that small businesses are very important to the American economy, many may not have considered the definition of “small” and the consequences for workers under policies that differentiate according to the number of people employed by an establishment.

Nationally, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of establishments employ fewer than 5 workers (Table 2). But just 7.3 percent of the private workforce is employed in these very small establishments, with most U.S. workers employed by larger firms. Under FMLA (which has more complex criteria for determining worker eligibility), 96 percent of the establishments in the United States are smaller than 50 employees, but they employ just 44 percent of workers.

Table 2: Detailed Distribution of Private-Sector Employment and Establishments by Number of Employees per Establishment

table 1 paid leave

Source: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, First Quarter 2018.

If firms with 49 or fewer employees are excluded from paid leave programs, then 44 percent of workers are excluded.  The excluded share falls to 26 percent if firms with less than 20 employees are excluded. Even if only the smallest firms—with fewer than 5 employees—are excluded from a mandate to provide paid leave, still 7.3 percent of all employees are excluded.

There is evidence that small businesses are supportive of these policies. Recent survey data of a nationally representative sample of small businesses from the Main Street Alliance found that nearly two of three small business owners would support a national paid family and medical leave program (64 percent) and eight of ten (79 percent) small business owners reported a paid family and medical leave policy through a social insurance program would help them provide this benefit to their employees.[iv]

Making it easier for small businesses to provide these vital benefits to their workers by including them in paid leave insurance programs is a win-win-win for workers, employers, and the economy.


[i] Self-insurance is allowed, but regulated. For example, less than 4 percent of California workers are covered by Voluntary Plans that can include private or self-insurance.

[ii] New York law allows, but does not require, employers to deduct one-half of one percent of an employee’s wage, up to a maximum of $.60 per week, towards the cost of disability benefits insurance.

[iii] Waiting periods may be waived when continuing on family leave following a medical leave for childbirth.

[iv] Among respondents to this survey, 90 percent had 10 or fewer employees.