Pioneering Research on the Costs and Benefits of Paid Family Leave

By Jeff Hayes, Ph.D.

Since its founding, IWPR has studied the costs and benefits of American workers’ access to leave for childbirth, personal health needs, or family caregiving. IWPR’s inaugural publication, Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans of the Lack of Family and Medical Leave  showed that by not recognizing the need for work-life balance, established policies not only failed to support workers and their families, but were costly to taxpayers. The study’s findings informed the passage of job-protected, unpaid leave in the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Expanding beyond unpaid leave, IWPR studied the possibility of providing paid family leave by enhancing Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs operating in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island in a fact sheet describing the program and in a paper presented at the American Economic Association in 1995. Since that time, three states—California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island— have implemented paid family leave expansions.

3.2_Paid-Leave-Legislation

More recently, IWPR worked in conjunction with the Labor Resource Center (LRC) at the University of Massachusetts–Boston to develop a flexible econometric model for estimating the costs and benefits of paid family and medical leave insurance proposals. The original IWPR/LRC Family and Medical Leave Cost Simulation Model used data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) 2000 FMLA survey and the March Current Population Survey (CPS), and incorporates the unique features of various proposed programs, from waiting periods to eligibility criteria. This IWPR/LRC model has been used to estimate the costs and benefits of proposed paid family leave legislation in several states: Massachusetts, New Mexico, Maine, Maryland, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington.

This year, the model was used by IWPR to study the costs and benefits of paid leave in the District of Columbia in collaboration with D.C.’s Department of Employment Services. The analysis was part of a recent family of studies funded by the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. DOL to inform the development or implementation of paid family and medical leave programs at the state level. The research continues to show that providing leave benefits under alternative policy designs could provide substantial benefits at relatively low cost. Early results were used by members of the D.C. City Council for a proposal to provide up to 16 weeks of partially paid leave for employees of private employers in the District of Columbia and allow D.C. residents working for the federal government or employers outside of the District to opt in. The legislation, if it passes, could be the most generous paid leave policy in the country.

Beginning in 2014, IWPR and IMPAQ International have been working under contract with the Department of Labor’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Chief Evaluation Office to update the IWPR/LRC simulation model to base leave-taking behaviors on the 2012 FMLA survey and the American Community Survey (ACS) for local labor force estimates. The larger sample size in the ACS provides greater geographic detail than what is available in the CPS for studying family and medical leave proposals in states, counties, or cities. Furthermore, the additional data available in the ACS on place of work allows for greater focus on the analysis of costs and benefits to employers in local areas considering policy changes.

Moving forward, IWPR, under federal and state research contracts, will be using the updated Family and Medical Leave Cost Simulation Model to study leave policies in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Montgomery County, MD, and the expansion of Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver plan.

President’s Message: Fall 2015

By Heidi Hartmann

It has been a great year for IWPR. Among many report releases, strong press coverage, and great exposure in the popular media, I want to particularly share with you my excitement at the new era that has begun in the struggle to attain paid parental leave in the United States. From President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech to the 2016 presidential candidates from both parties, the call for paid parental leave has come to the fore. While one candidate attacked the need for any legislation guaranteeing such policies (claiming that employers that find it important to their business will do it on their own), many candidates have supported the call for paid parental leave policy at the federal level, although most have not yet issued detailed plans. Never before has paid family leave been addressed so prominently in these venues.

I am very proud to say that IWPR’s dogged work since the mid-1990s to present paid family leave as a realistic option for the United States is finally paying off. As noted in Jeff Hayes’ opening article in this newsletter, IWPR first highlighted the use of state Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs—which already covered a woman’s pregnancy, delivery, and recovery—as vehicles for paid family care leave in a paper presented in 1995 at the annual meetings of the American Economic Association. We followed that up with a fact sheet in 1996 describing the five existing state TDI programs. California was in fact the first of these states to adopt paid family care leave, built upon their TDI program, in 2002; IWPR staff members had traveled to Sacramento to present findings on more than one occasion. More recently, New Jersey in 2008 and Rhode Island in 2013 have joined California in expanding their TDI programs to provide paid benefits for family care leave, typically four to six weeks and all paid for by workers through payroll tax deduction.

Currently, the District of Columbia is one of several local and state jurisdictions that is actively exploring how to establish a new paid leave program without a TDI system to build upon. The District won one of four competitive grants offered by the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, to enable research on feasibility, and the District contracted with IWPR for assistance with its analysis. This year, the Women’s Bureau awarded eight grants and IWPR is expecting to work with four of the winning jurisdictions.

The Women’s Bureau grants seemed to have started an avalanche as several other states are spending their own funds on feasibility studies for paid family leave. For sure, an avalanche began in the tech industry as firms competed with one another to offer family leave. As reported by Elle, Netflix started it by offering up to one year paid leave; Microsoft then offered 12 paid weeks for family care, in addition to 8 for maternity disability. Adobe Systems then announced an expansion of maternity leave from 17 to 26 weeks and a doubling of fathers’ time off from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. Amazon responded to all this with 20 weeks off for pregnancy including 4 weeks prepartum and up to 6 weeks off for fathers. Finally, Spotify now gives up to 6 month off with pay anytime from 2 months before birth to a child’s third birthday. Of course, firms with highly skilled talent are more likely to make such an investment, but Facebook also requires its contracting firms (providing services such as food and cleaning among other services) to provide parental leave or a lump sum of $4,000 in lieu of paid leave. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is currently taking a two month leave after the birth of his family’s first child. Policies and practices such as these dramatically change the climate in favor of change at a national level. It is an international embarrassment that 183 countries have paid parental leave and only the US—along with Papua New Guinea—does not (according to the International Labour Organization).

Should the current discussion on national security leave any room and the issue of family leave reverberate in the presidential election in 2016, change could happen much more quickly than is commonly expected. IWPR’s work will be central to the action! Stay tuned.

Top 5 IWPR Findings of 2015

By Rachel Eichhorn and Rachel Linn

What a year it’s been for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research! In 2015, we released 119 publications, including the seven chapter Status of Women in the States: 2015 report, with an accompanying interactive website. IWPR research was cited more than 2,100 times in media outlets around the country – from a feature in Glamour Magazine to a skit on Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer. Our staff also presented or participated in over 60 meetings and events on key issues affecting women and families.

Below are our top 5 findings of 2015 (plus a bonus!) from our many research reports. Let us know which one you found most interesting or surprising on Twitter or Facebook using #IWPRtop5.

1. The overall best state for women in America is Minnesota. The worst states are Alabama and Mississippi.

SWS EE map

This Spring, IWPR released the highly anticipated Status of Women in the States: 2015 report, ranking and grading the status of women on six topic areas: Political Participation, Employment & Earnings, Work & Family, Poverty & Opportunity, Reproductive Rights, Health & Well-Being, plus data on Violence & Safety.

The site is also the most accessible, comprehensive source of state data on women of color in the U.S. Browse spotlight pages that highlight data on specific groups, such as older women, Millennials, women living in same-sex households, immigrant women, and women in unions.

2. There are five states that will not see equal pay until the next century: Louisiana, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Jon Stewart.jpg

A viral segment on The Daily Show called “The Future of Gender Wage Equality” summarized this finding perfectly when Kristen Schaal explained how humans will go to Mars before women get pay equity!

3. Women will not achieve political parity in Congress until the year 2117.

Share of Elective Offices Held by Women

In 2015, 20 of 100 members of the U.S. Senate (20 percent) and 84 of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (19.3 percent) are women. These numbers represent an increase since 2004, but the number of seats held by women in the U.S. Congress is still well below women’s share of the overall population.

4. Nearly half of current exempt Millennial women will gain overtime coverage under new U.S. DOL rule.

millennial overtime.jpg

In a report co-authored by MomsRising, IWPR found that working women—especially young women, single mothers, women workers of color, and women working in service and administrative support positions—have the most to gain from an increase of the overtime salary threshold to $50,440 proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor in July 2015. The collaboration with MomsRising helped to put a human face on those that would be positively affected by the rule change.

5. Women experience higher poverty rates than men for every demographic group and at all ages.

MBK fig. 1

The report, Toward Our Children’s Keeper, provides a discussion and analysis of the interim report of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, using data for males and females together as a reference point. The report argues that initiatives addressing the needs of young people of color should address the needs of girls and young women of color, as well as those of boys and young men of color, rather than targeting separate spending and program initiatives solely at boys and young men of color.

BONUS!

In 32 states, one week of additional earnings of union women is sufficient to cover the costs of full-time child care.

union advantage mapThis summer, IWPR released a briefing paper that converted women’s union advantage into childcare costs. Women represented by a union in the United States earn an average of $212 more per week than women in nonunion jobs. Union women earn more in every state, with the size of the union wage advantage varying across states: union women in Wyoming earn $349 per week more than their nonunion counterparts, while union women in the District of Columbia earn $48 more per week than D.C.’s nonunion women. This union wage advantage for women is sufficient to cover at least the weekly cost of full-time child care in a center for an infant.


You still have a chance to make research count for women in 2015. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to IWPR.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of December 7, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing. 


December 14, 2015

LaCrosse Tribune (Wisconsin): 7 Rivers Alliance to spur workforce development with grant program

At the Be Bold forum, five companies outlined a skills gap and the challenge of finding qualified workers. Sean Smith, a supply chain director at Agropur Ingredients in La Crosse, said his company wants to grow and expand but was having difficulties finding enough employees for the production lines already in service.

Whitehall is a challenging area to recruit workers and families. Because of its distance from Eau Claire and La Crosse, public transportation is an issue.

Affordable housing is also a challenge in Whitehall, as is child care, both of which are widespread concerns.

December 11, 2015

Deseret News (Salt Lake City): How do you help families still mired in the Great Recession?

Since Utah’s public assistance and workforce services agencies have not always been connected, low-income families historically had to go to separate offices for help with employment, food stamps and other services, according to Nic Dunn, spokesman for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

But the department has created “one-stop” centers to ensure that more people know about and receive the various resources available, he said.

“Having that all under one roof where it’s one touch point is way more efficient for these people,” Dunn said. “It has been such a powerful tool to help them get back on their feet a lot more quickly.”

Still, many people don’t realize those centers provide help with nonemployment services, such as food stamps, child care, after-school programs, housing and financial assistance, according to Aguirre.

December 8, 2015

MarketPlace: Job fair encourages girls to get into trades

Construction is a booming industry. But when’s the last time you saw a female construction worker? A female plumber? Turns out, there aren’t very many. Women make up only 2.6 percent of the field. The Women Can Build Career Fair in Hayward, California is trying to address this gender imbalance.

December 7, 2015

WMAZ (Georgia): Program helps train, employ central Georgia workers

The local Director, Shaknita Davis said, “It is our job and responsibility to understand what workforce trends are, what skills are needed from local industry and employers and make sure job seekers on the other side, know what skill sets are needed and then help them acquire those skill sets in order to meet the employer need as well as their need to find employment.”

Davis went on to explain that the program strives to break down any barriers for both employers and employees. “We assist them with tuition, books, fees, licenses, child care, transportation, any type of barrier that would hinder them from being able to obtain those skills that are needed.”

December 5, 2015

The Philadelphia Tribune: YouthBuild, Starbucks initiative takes local woman from homelessness to career

Starbucks has taken the lead locally in a national effort to employ “opportunity youth” such as Williams, young people between the ages of 18 and 24, who are not in school or are unemployed. According to a report commissioned by Boston-based Opportunity Nation almost six million youth are disconnected from school and work.

Through local partnership with organizations such as YouthBuild, Starbucks has hired more than 50 opportunity youth in Philadelphia during the last two years. The company has committed to hiring 10,000 opportunity youth nationally by 2018.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of November 30, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.


November 30, 2015

Campus Technology: Associates Degree or Cert in CTE Leads to Higher Earnings

People in California who earn a career technical education (CTE) degree or certificate from a community college earn more money — an average increase in income of 33 percent or 13 to 22 percent overall, respectively. Those are two findings from a research project undertaken by the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, Davis.

The research also found that student characteristics across programs translated into different returns and outcomes. Because women “were much more likely than men to enter health programs,” the policy brief noted, “their average return was higher.” Driven by those high returns, women’s income increased 42 percent with an associate’s degree, compared to 21 percent for men. Women, however, were also more likely to enter the programs with the lowest returns, such as childcare.

 November 30, 2015

Omaha Public Radio: Partnership of Women’s Foundations Pledge $100 Million to Create Pathways to Economic Security

“We are going to be looking at job training, financial literacy, and child care initiatives. These are things that we know help women attain economic self-sufficiency, programs that really help women be able to take care of their families and their communities.”

November 20, 2015

NW Labor Press: Apprenticeship gets some long-overdue recognition

At 6.9 percent, Oregon has more than double the national rate of women in construction trades apprenticeships. According to Connie Ashbrook, executive director of OTI, registered apprenticeship programs in the Portland metropolitan area that her organization partners with have nearly 10 percent women, on average.

Charlie Johnson, business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 16, said journeyman sheet metal workers make $38 an hour, with “unparalleled” fringe benefits that include a pension and full medical benefits. “I don’t think there are too many opportunities outside the construction trades that offer that kind of income,” Johnson said.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of November 16, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.


November 20, 2015

FW: The Magazine for Chicago Women: The Face of a Changing Industry

When one thinks of the construction field, a young woman with a blonde ponytail might not immediately come to mind. But Minnesota native Samantha Randby is an apprentice lineman with Intren. She is one of the 8.9 percent of women who are currently employed within the construction workforce.

November 19, 2015

The Fairfield Sun: Funding helps create pathways to economic security for women

Prosperity Together partners will use their respective experience and knowledge to continue funding programs that are proven effective in their communities and states. The types of programs that will be funded include job training programs that are customized to address the cultural and educational needs of low-income women in order to secure a higher-wage job in a stable work environment.

November 16, 2015

San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Why Metro wants to hire more women for construction jobs

Though Metro doesn’t actually build anything, it contracts with companies that do. Both must fulfill project labor agreements that include hiring a certain percentage of minorities and women.

Federal guidelines say each project should have 6.9 percent women. While some Metro projects are near that, others have less than 1 percent, said Miguel Cabral, Metro’s deputy executive officer of diversity and economic opportunity.

Also covered in Construction Dive: Los Angeles Metro ramps up efforts to recruit women construction workers

November 16, 2015

Birmingham Business Journal: Women’s Fund to invest $2.5M in local job training and child care

The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham will be investing $2.5 million over the next five years toward job training for women, child care and economic research.

November 13, 2015

Star Tribune: Women’s foundations pledge $100 million to bolster economic security for American women, families

In Minnesota, money will be allocated to bolster education and job training services, as well as child care, to help women secure higher-wage, stable work, officials said. Funding also will be used for research to inform best practices for policy change.

“A special focus must be placed on women of color, who are on the bottom rung of every economic indicator in Minnesota, just as they are in many states in the nation,” said Lee Roper-Batker, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, which will commit $15 million to the effort over the next five years.

 November 13, 2015

Naples Daily News: Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida joins national initiative to empower disadvantaged

The foundations’ efforts will focus largely on funding job training programs that address educational needs and cultural issues to help low-income women get better jobs. It also will help fund child care programs so mothers can be in the workplace and their children can get an academic start.

November 12, 2015

Construction Dive: Are women the answer to the construction labor shortage?

However, the industry is also facing another shortage — women in the construction trades. Women represent half of the population in the U.S. but, according to a 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, women make up less than 10% of the construction industry workforce. Some groups, like the National Women’s Law Center, peg that figure at 3%, although organizations like the AGC contend their numbers include only women in the field, and not those in administrative or professional positions.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: 2015 National Apprenticeship Week Round-Up

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.


November 8, 2015

Star Tribune: Progress has been slow but steady for women in construction

[Minnesotan Kimberly Brinkman’s] experiences were echoed in the recent survey by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. One common experience for almost all tradeswomen is being the only woman on the job site. When Brinkman attended the Women Build Nations Conference in Los Angeles last spring, she was brought to tears when she entered a room with over 1,000 tradeswomen. “What a powerful experience,” she said. “It is an act of courage and strength to work in an industry dominated by men,” she continued. “The stories inspired me … to change the status quo.”

November 4, 2015

Oregon Live: Oregon a national leader in recruiting women apprentices but challenges remain

A 2014 report praised Oregon as one of two states making exemplary efforts to improve diversity in the highway construction trades, notably by dedicating a portion of its federal highway funding for training and support services for women and minorities. Having the state pay for such things as child care expenses, mileage, tools and clothing makes it more likely that women can continue their apprenticeships, the report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found.

November 4, 2015

Jobs for the Future: Expanding the Path to Apprenticeships to Women and Minority Workers

Pre-apprenticeships are a critical entry point into a training and career pathway for numerous reasons. A good program has deep community ties, and can recruit women and minorities to consider nontraditional occupations and apprenticeship programs as a real option for their future. They teach these individuals the technical skills, contextualized literacy and numeracy skills, and soft skills they need to succeed on the job or in an apprenticeship. Finally, these programs are equipped provide the case management that connects their trainees to the resources they need to overcome their transportation, housing, child care, and other barriers to work.

November 4, 2015

303 Magazine: How Denver Women are Using Cooking to Get off Welfare

However, WOW also provides a slew of advanced training courses that can act as a solution to the cliff effect since students enrolled in courses—such as those for sous chef certification—have the potential to make $35K to $40K a year with complete benefits. Though these extensive training course are not the right fit for every student, WOW does boast a hefty repertoire of ancillary services that supports students at all levels. This includes help with everything from resume writing and interview training, to cognitive behavioral therapy, in-house emergency child care and safety planning for those in domestic violence situations. Some services are even offered throughout their lifetime.

November 4, 2015

San Francisco Chronicle Op-Ed: Apprenticeships offer debt-free job training

By Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions

Rather than reinvent the wheel, policymakers should turn to a training infrastructure that’s worked for decades. For a thriving economy, we need to double the number of American apprentices.

Citizens should press their governments and community-based organizations to partner with their local building trades unions to enact robust apprenticeship readiness programs— especially ones that give communities of color, women and veterans a leg up on the ladder to the middle class.