New Overtime Rule is Tangible Progress for Women, Especially Mothers and Women of Color

by Jennifer Clark

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its long-awaited final rule on raising the salary threshold under which working people can earn overtime pay. The final rule will double the current salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476, directly benefiting 12.5 million workers, according to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute. The rule is undoubtedly major progress for workers struggling to support their families at a decent standard of living, and especially for working women in the United States.

According to EPI, over half of the workers—6.4 million—who will directly benefit from the increased threshold are women. A report produced last year by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and MomsRising also found that women of color and single mothers—groups that are especially economically vulnerable—will disproportionately benefit: under a slightly higher threshold, nearly half of currently exempt black and Hispanic women workers and working single mothers would gain coverage. (The analysis was based on the $50,440 threshold originally proposed by DOL; the final rule, set at a slightly lower earnings threshold, will likely show an even greater proportion of women of color and single mothers benefiting, as these groups tend to earn less than women overall.)

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The final $47,476 was chosen because it represents the earnings of the 40th percentile of salaried workers in the South. Women are now the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families with young children. In the South, half of all breadwinner mothers are women of color, with black mothers especially likely to be carrying the responsibility their family’s economic security. Four out of five black mothers in the South are breadwinners, compared with half of white and Hispanic mothers in the region. With over 2 million working mothers across the country newly covered under this final rule, more families, like Cynthia’s, can benefit from additional earnings or, if not obligated to work long hours with no extra pay, more time with loved ones.

For other women who have shared their stories with MomsRising, overtime pay has been the difference between making ends meet and choosing between paying for electricity at home or gas to get to work. While more still must be done to ensure women can make ends meet for their families without working overtime, the new rule gives millions of working women who work long hours already without compensation a little more breathing room.

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With fair pay (at time and a half) for workers who work more than 40 hours per week now becoming a reality for so many women earning less than $47,476 per year, it’s time for policymakers to make paid family leave and equal pay realities as well—major steps that will also help to bring women and their families above poverty and toward a middle class living standard.

Read more stories and analysis in IWPR and MomsRising’s 2015 report, How the New Overtime Rule Will Help Women & Families.

Find updated estimates on how many workers will be affected under the final rule from the Economic Policy Institute.

Jennifer Clark  is the Director of Communications at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of May 9, 2016

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

By Asha DuMonthier

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.

May 9, 2016

Al DÍA News: Philadelphia Works to launch employment job training program

This Wednesday, Philadelphia Works, in collaboration with The Workplace, will launch a new job training program for long term unemployed residents of Philadelphia. […] P2E, which began in Southwest Connecticut in 2011, combines a five-week job readiness training course with personal and family support services and financial counseling, all at no cost to the participant.

May 7, 2016

Casa Grande Dispatch: Arizona@Work Pinal County tries to match employers with workers

Now Pinal jobs officials have taken a new approach to getting jobs for people, talking to the businesses in the area to see what jobs are in demand. The idea is to get input from businesses on where they see their companies going, what sorts of positions they predict they will need to fill and making sure there is training for those jobs readily available.

[…] Arizona@Work is funded federally and uses the money to help with recruitment services, employee development programs and support services for existing businesses and employees. One of the resources that is available is, where people looking for jobs can peruse open positions, and employers can browse through resumes that are hosted on the servers.

May 6, 2016

Dayton Daily News: Thousands of youth summer jobs at risk, area officials say

The state is taking millions of dollars in funding from its subsidized summer employment program and putting it into a new year-round program that provides educational and training support to low-income young people.

[…] The year-round program will provide case management and wrap-around services to low-income and out-of-school youth between the ages of 16 and 24, said Hoffman. The new program’s goals are to provide education, training and other support to young people to maintain sustainable employment, break the cycle of poverty and address life issues like childcare and transportation, said Hoffman.

May 5, 2016

Boston Globe: Moms are making their way into construction industry

Some women find their way into the building trades through friends and family, the traditional route. In 2011, Building Pathways, a six-week pre-apprenticeship training program was launched to introduce women and minorities to the industry. According to a case study published by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City last fall, more than half of its 125 graduates were women. There are also efforts to strengthen the pipeline from vocational schools to union-apprenticeship programs. On March 30, the first-ever Massachusetts Girls In Trades Conference drew more than 400 female students.

[…] Once in the industry, women can face roadblocks, one of the more significant being child care. (Workers often are required to head to work long before day-care facilities open.) PGTI and Building Pathways are part of a team developing child-care solutions for women in construction.

May 4, 2016

Evanston Round Table: City’s Youth and Young Adult Division Provides Job Opportunities and Other Services, Reduces Violence

The City has more than 2,000 at-risk youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 26, says Kevin Brown, who has overseen the City’s Youth and Young Adult Division for the past five years. Since his arrival, that Division has hired six outreach workers and has ramped up its efforts to reach out to at-risk youth and young adults, and to provide them services to meet their needs, often in partnership with other agencies and community organizations.

An important part of the outreach program is to stem violence in the community by connecting young adults with job opportunities and other supports and mediating disputes.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of May 2, 2016

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

By Asha DuMonthier

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.

May 4, 2016

LA Weekly: Robert Egger Dreamed of Changing the World Through music. He Changed it Through Food Instead

In 1989, Egger founded D.C. Central Kitchen. The groundbreaking meal distribution and job training program helped combat food waste and reduce homeless rates in a city reeling from Reagan-era social cutbacks and a sprawling crack epidemic. In the ensuing two and a half decades, D.C. Kitchen produced more than 30 million meals and helped 1,500 men and women gain full-time employment, with the program’s model spreading to 50 other “campus kitchens” across the country.

[…] In 2013, Egger returned to Los Angeles to launch L.A. Kitchen, an ambitious hybrid nonprofit and social enterprise located in a Lincoln Heights warehouse. It serves as both a nonprofit culinary job training center for former inmates and at-risk youth — where students use donated produce and food that would otherwise go to waste — and a separate, for-profit catering operation called Strong Food, which employs program graduates to prepare healthy food aimed at feeding low-income seniors.

April 30, 2016

Madison Magazine: Job training program makes a difference

It was a controversial concept: Require Wisconsin residents to work or get job training to be eligible for FoodShare benefits (commonly known as food stamps). Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the state Legislature forged ahead with the idea in two consecutive budgets and allocated more than $50 million to the FoodShare Employment and Training program. Starting in April 2015, able-bodied adults without dependent children would be required to work 80 hours per month or enter the FSET program.

[…] I get gas vouchers every three weeks … I go to [Madison College] on the east side, I live on the southwest side and my job is in Oregon. They give me $35 every three weeks and that helps me tremendously. And since I work at least five hours a week, my daycare is pretty much covered in full. Because I’m a full-time student and part-time worker, that’s [a] tremendous help to me.

April 27, 2016

St. Louis Public Radio: Apprenticeship pilot program to train child care workers in St. Louis

The two-year program includes five weeks of classes, paid on-the-job training beginning at $9.50 an hour, and placement at an early childhood education program with pay scaling up to $13 an hour. Participants will graduate as Child Development Associates with a certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.

[…] Dawn Winkler, who directs an association of St. Louis day care centers called United 4 Children, said centers often struggle to find qualified employees who are willing to work for the wages they can afford to offer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for day care workers is $10.72, or $22,310 a year.

April 25, 2016

Naples Daily News: The Heights Foundation Expands Culinary Training and Job Placement Program

The Heights Foundation is expanding their culinary training and job placement program. The 14 week program, currently in place at The Heights Center will expand to include the Grace Church campuses in Cape Coral and Fort Myers in May. It was created to address the issue of unemployment and underemployment. The food service industry training is designed to develop job-specific technical skills as well as providing support services and experiences to address barriers to success including learning challenges, minimal academic skills, limited English Proficiency, financial literacy, transportation and scheduling concerns.

April 21, 2016

WKYC: Cuyahoga County starts job-training program for prisoners

On Thursday, County Executive Armond Budish announced the county is launching its own first program to help male prisoners learn job skills, deal with substance abuse issues and strive for more education. […] After they are released, former prisoners will keep getting job readiness training, case management and support services to help them re-enter the community and land a job.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of April 18, 2016

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

By Asha DuMonthier

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.

April 19, 2016

Capital & Main: Women Convicts Train for a Future

Before Legend’s visit, In the Public Interest joined with the National Employment Law Project (NELP) to release a new report to bring attention to how unions are creating job training programs nationwide to help people coming out of prison. Programs like Washington’s own Trades Related Apprenticeship Coaching (TRAC) program prepare prisoners and the formerly incarcerated for one of the most difficult parts of reentering society, finding work.

[…] Washington Corrections Center for Women’s TRAC program trains incarcerated women in building and construction work, providing a leg up in earning entry into a union apprenticeship program that leads to a career with good wages and benefits.

Columbus Underground: Job Training Service Provides Bridge to Competitive Employment

Greenleaf, a Columbus job training facility targeting veterans, individuals with learning disabilities, and others “who face significant barriers to employment,” will launch their Community Work HABits program this year.

[…] Filling in that gap includes training in soft work skills, like how to interact with colleagues and how to adjust to a work environment. People in training will also learn the day to day tasks that accompany independence, like budget planning, navigating public transportation, and actively seeking out employment.

April 15, 2016

Prior Lake American: Back to school for South Korea native

A lot can get in the way of getting an education. During the May 2015-March 2016 period at the GED course, a total of 23 students attended and four passed at least one of the four GED tests. Six students showed level gains from their assessment at the start of the class. Some of those students didn’t attend often enough to accurately assess their progress. The Prior Lake-Savage site offers free childcare in the building for students who need it, but even then it can be hard to find the time and transportation required to complete the course. Baker, Polito Announce Workforce Skills Capital Grants

NECAT [New England Center for Arts and Technology, Boston] will deepen its capacity to provide culinary training and support services to low-income adults facing barriers to employment, by purchasing several pieces of equipment, including kitchen appliances and computers.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of April 11, 2016

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

By Asha DuMonthier

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.

April 15, 2016

NPR: This Bakery Offers A Second Chance for Women After Prison

It’s [Together We Bake] a bakery in Alexandria, Va. that makes granola, cookies and kale chips for local eateries and a local Whole Foods store. It’s also a job-training and coaching program for women in need of a second chance — many of whom have served time in prison, or are on probation following criminal charges.

[…] Together We Bake also weaves in resilience training and empowerment classes to help trainees cope with their challenges. The sessions are overseen by Wright, who has a background in social work, and they’re often led by women who’ve been through the program. The curriculum is based on a book titled Houses of Healing, which lays out a mindfulness-based, research driven approach to help people change their behavior and overcome feelings of negativity and lack of self worth.

April 14, 2016

The Hour: FESP program helps women in need continue education

Now, The Family Economic Security Program, which comes from the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls, is expanding, having started in September at Bridgeport’s Housatonic Community College. […] For five years, Norwalk Community College has been at the forefront of a program that provides low-income women with scholarships, emergency funds, financial and achievement coaching, and peer-to-peer mentoring.

[…] Citing trends that show younger, single mothers often working in low-wage jobs, if they are able to be employed at all, the program’s founders decided to tackle a skills gap that is keeping more women and families in poverty. Today, the enhanced FESP entails a workforce development component, coaching support, financial literacy development and access to community supports and more.

April 11, 2016

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Va., CVS collaborate on training program for young adults with disabilities

After graduating from Varina High School in Henrico in June 2014, Rushing entered a job training program at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center in Augusta County.

Each year, the center helps about 3,000 people with disabilities attain independence, medical rehabilitation and employment through a variety of services. The center offers training in more than half a dozen trades, including automotive maintenance, food service, information technology and manufacturing.



5 Points to Bring Up to Win an Argument about the Gender Wage Gap

by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Barbara Gault, Ph.D., and Ariane Hegewisch

The 79 percent wage ratio figure, the most commonly used figure to measure the gender wage gap in the United States, is often derided as misleading, a myth, or worst of all, a lie. In this blog, we argue that the figure is an accurate measure of the inequality in earnings between women and men who work full-time, year-round in the labor market and reflects a number of different factors: discrimination in pay, recruitment, job assignment, and promotion; lower earnings in occupations mainly done by women; and  women’s disproportionate share of time spent on family care, including that they—rather than fathers—still tend to be the ones to take more time off work when families have children. Just because the explanation of the gender wage gap is multi-faceted does not make it a lie.

When a phenomenon, such as the wage gap, can be explained by various factors, it does not mean the phenomenon doesn’t exist.  In fact, those explanations are the exact factors to look at when identifying interventions to solve the problem. Take another phenomenon for example: poverty. Black and Hispanic populations in the United States have higher poverty rates than the white population. When analyses control for education, place of residence, type of job, and many other factors, the remaining differences in poverty rates are smaller but not gone. It is not a myth or a lie, then, to say that black and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately more likely to live in poverty. Indeed, they are.

Here are five key facts to remember about the gender wage gap:

1) Other data series on weekly or hourly earnings are not necessarily more accurate than the annual figure.

Some claim that proponents of equal pay use the 79 percent annual wage ratio figure because it shows the biggest wage gap, 21 percent, when other data series on weekly and hourly earnings available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show slightly smaller gaps. There is no basis for the claim that weekly or hourly data are a more accurate representation of inequality in pay between men and women. The 79 percent annual wage ratio figure is the historical headline figure, likely because it allows the longest comparison across time and includes the broadest range of different kinds of earnings, including self-employment income. Annual bonus payments, for example, are a big part of remuneration in some fields and are included in the 79 percent figure, but are excluded from the weekly or hourly earnings figures. Both the weekly and annual earnings ratios are for full-time workers only; if part-time and part-year workers were included, the ratios of women’s to men’s earnings would be even lower, as women are more likely than men to work reduced schedules, often in order to manage unpaid childrearing and other caregiving work.

2) The annual wage ratio of 79 percent is actually a moderate estimate of gender pay inequality.

If part-time workers were included, a figure that Statistics Canada uses, the wage ratio would be 69.9, a gap of 30.1 percent.  The United Kingdom has used life-time earnings ratios.  One IWPR study found that across 15 years (ending in 1998, using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics), the typical American woman earned just 38 percent of the typical man. The Urban Institute, using Social Security earnings data, finds that the typical wife earns about 50 percent of what her husband does across their working lives. In fact, the 79 percent figure falls in the middle of the range of these other estimates.

3) Women’s ‘choices’ are not necessarily choices.

Wage gap skeptics emphasize that women ‘choose’ different and lower-paying college majors than men, implying such differences mean that the wage gap measure is not a good measure of economy-wide wage inequality.  ‘Choice’ is, of course, an unverified assumption. There is considerable evidence of barriers to free choice of occupations, ranging from lack of unbiased information about job prospects to actual harassment and discrimination in male-dominated jobs. For instance, a library assistant may choose to go to school for 6 more years to become a librarian, or she may choose to go to school for half that and become an IT support specialist, if she knew that librarians and IT support specialists were paid roughly the same per year. In a world where half of IT support specialists were women and half of librarians were men, men and women might ‘choose’ very differently than they do now. We do know that young women and men generally express the same range of desires regarding their future careers in terms of such values as making money and having autonomy and flexibility at work, as well as time to spend with family.

4) There is no proof that being a mother makes a woman less productive on the job.

There are legal cases, as well as social science research studies, that show that just by the mere fact of being a mother, women’s advancement opportunities shrink, and just by being a father, men’s grow. And why should women who may be decades past the phase of active childrearing still be suffering a wage penalty?  While it is true that women typically take more time away from work for child rearing than do men, that decision often makes economic sense when a wife’s wages are lower than her husband’s—equal pay would likely lead to more equitable sharing of child rearing. In fact, women’s human capital (generally measured as years of education plus years on the job and in the job market) are increasingly equal for women and men.  Furthermore, research shows subsidizing the cost of child care and providing paid parental leaves of up to six months would help women return to work sooner, and would help men to more equally share care.

5) Discrimination is still a factor—a big one—in the gender wage gap.

It is true that, when factors such as occupation and parental or marital status are used as control variables in statistical models aiming to explain what ’causes’ the wage gap, the size of that gap is reduced, and what is left unexplained is generally thought to possibly be the result of discrimination. But it is just as likely that discrimination affects these ‘control’ variables as well as the size of the remaining gap. Peer reviewed literature surveys published in mainstream economics journals, including a recent study by Francine Blau and Lawrence Khan estimate that 38 percent of the gross wage gap remains unexplained when factors reasonably thought to affect productivity are included as control variables in the models. Blau and Kahn estimate that occupational segregation—where women work in lower paid jobs, typically done by women, and men work in higher paying jobs typically done by men— along with segregation by industry and firm, are now responsible for half the wage gap.  While some occupational differences result from differences in preparation for the labor market by women and men, others result from different job assignments by employers when women and men first participate in the labor market.

It is important to look at the 79 percent figure as a baseline to understand the true magnitude of the problem, so we can intervene on factors such as employer bias, career preparation, and time spent on family care. When we look at the control variables, the findings do not indicate that the wage gap is actually a smaller problem than we thought. The findings indicate that women need more information and opportunity to pursue certain lucrative careers, like those in STEM, where the largest employers are only now providing paid family leaves that can encourage the more equal division between women and men. Redressing the US lag in providing paid family leave and subsidized child care can help, but so can improved information about pay and stronger enforcement of our equal opportunity laws.

Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., is a labor economist, president and founder of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and a MacArthur Fellow.

Barbara Gault, Ph.D., is the vice president and executive director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Ariane Hegewisch is a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of April 4, 2016

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

By Asha DuMonthier

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.

April 7, 2016

Monroe Courier: ‘Baby shower’ to support women’s education center

The Mercy Learning Center has a saying — educate a woman, educate a family. […] But a low-income woman in need of literacy and job skill programs could face an additional challenge if she is also the parent of a small child. Mercy’s day care center allows the women with infants and toddlers to attend classes and counseling sessions and meet with tutors without any worries about their young children.

KSPR: Closing the gender gap could grow the economy by $2.1 trillion

Every U.S. state has the potential to grow its economy by at least 5% if it can narrow the gender gap over the next decade, the McKinsey report [The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the United States] asserts. That means boosting women’s participation in the labor force as well as their (paid) work hours. It also means focusing efforts on creating jobs in industries that typically have hired fewer women than men, such as manufacturing and business services.

[…] Creating those jobs will require an additional investment of at least $475 billion, much of which would probably need to come from the private sector, the report suggests. That money could be invested in everything from infrastructure and innovation to talent development and skills training.

April 6, 2016

YourAlaskaLink: Downtown Soup Kitchen Hopes to Help Homeless Women Learn Job Skills

“We want to give women more than just the shelter, we want to give them a hand up and an ability to get some job training and to have something to get up in the morning for so we started the bakery,” Sherrie Laurie who is the Executive Director for the Downtown Soup Kitchen said.

The Bakery consists of a morning class where the women learn the technical aspects of baking before heading down to the kitchen in the afternoon, where they are taught the hands-on skills.

March 30, 2016

TheEagle: Veterans in San Antonio guided forward after being homeless

Guerra and the three members of his so-called navigator team combine the roles of outreach specialist, peer mentor and case manager. True to their title, the navigators seek to guide veterans living on the streets or in shelters into a place of their own, and then, over time, toward self-reliance.

The approach treats housing as the start of their reintegration rather than the endpoint. The navigators assist veterans in pursuing a new future by connecting them to drug and alcohol treatment, mental health counseling, medical care, job training and other supportive services.