Tag Archives: National Partnership for Women & Families

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Report: Arizona is failing new parents

A new state-by-state analysis shows how little the nation supports and protects working mothers and fathers when a new child arrives – and Arizona is among the states with the worst records. The study, Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help New Parents, is the most comprehensive analysis to date of state laws and regulations governing paid leave and workplace rights for new parents in the United States. Arizona earned a grade of “F,” joining 16 other states that do not provide any support or job protection to new parents beyond what federal law provides.

The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The full report, which grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on the enactment of select laws that expand upon federal leave and workplace protections, can be found here.

“New mothers and fathers should not have to experience financial hardship at what should be one of the happiest times of their lives,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “Yet tens of millions of expecting and new parents struggle because our nation fails to provide paid leave and other basic workplace protections. As the president, lawmakers, businesses, workers and advocates gather in the nation’s capital next week to discuss these issues, this study shows how much work lies ahead. America’s families expect and deserve much better. We need national family friendly workplace standards now.”

Public support for family friendly policies like paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and pregnancy accommodations is strong. A growing body of evidence shows that they promote the health and economic security of families and strengthen businesses and the economy. Yet Expecting Better finds that no state is doing enough to provide these basic workplace supports. California is far ahead, earning a grade of “A-.” On the other end of the spectrum, 17 states received grades of “F.” Most states fall somewhere in between; they are doing something to expand upon minimal federal protections, but not enough.

“This report shows that progress toward a family friendly America is possible, and history demonstrates that state activity can pave the way while providing needed support to working families,” explained Ness. “But the ability of working people in this country, including new and expecting parents, to manage their responsibilities at home and on the job should not depend on where they live. Lawmakers at all levels should take a close look at this study and the evidence that shows the benefits of providing leave and other workplace protections, and then move quickly to establish the standards people urgently need and deserve.”

At the national level, attention to and support for policies that support new and expecting parents has increased in recent years. Hundreds of organizations including the National Partnership are calling on Congress to pass legislation that would establish federal-level protections, including: the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program; the Healthy Families Act, which would set a national paid sick days standard; and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would help to combat pregnancy discrimination.

President Obama recently called for family friendly workplace policies, including in his State of the Union address this year. For the fifth year in a row, his budget includes a state paid leave fund that would help support states that want to create their own paid leave programs. Only California, New Jersey and Rhode Island currently have paid leave insurance programs. And on Monday, the White House will host a Summit on Working Families in Washington, D.C., to showcase policies that would help working parents and families while bringing the country’s public policies in line with the rest of the world. Members of Congress are also increasingly discussing the challenges working families face.

The United States is one of few countries that do not guarantee working people access to paid leave. Paid leave for new mothers is guaranteed in 181 other nations, and 81 nations guarantee paid leave for new fathers. The United States guarantees neither and has just three national laws – addressing pregnancy discrimination, unpaid family and medical leave, and nursing mother’s rights at work – that help some new and expecting parents. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides new parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but just under 60 percent of the workforce is eligible for its protections and many cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides.

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Unequal Wages Cost Phoenix Women $3.8 Billion

A new analysis released for Equal Pay Day tomorrow reveals that the Phoenix area’s gender-based wage gap is punishing local families and the economy. Women who are employed full time in the Phoenix area are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap in wages of $6,685. Collectively, this amounts to a loss of nearly $3.8 billion in income every year – money that could strengthen the local economy and provide critical support to the more than 198,000 Phoenix area households headed by women.

The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families, based on U.S. Census Bureau data. The National Partnership analyzed the wage gap in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas and in all 50 states. It found that, statewide, women in Arizona are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to men.

“This new analysis illustrates the great harm to families, states and metropolitan areas caused by the pervasive gender-based wage gap,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “With most women serving as essential breadwinners for their families, the loss of this critical income has devastating consequences. Local, state and federal lawmakers should make ending gender discrimination in pay and promotions a much higher priority.”

According to the analysis, if the gap between men’s and women’s wages in the Phoenix area were eliminated, each full-time working woman could afford to pay for food for nearly one more year, buy 1800+ more gallons of gas, pay mortgage and utilities for five more months or pay rent for seven more months. These basic necessities would be particularly important for the nearly 62,000 women-headed households in the Phoenix area that currently live below the poverty level.

Nationally, women who hold full-time jobs are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men who hold full-time jobs. African American women and Latinas fare worse, being paid 64 cents and just 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. At that rate, it is estimated that women will not be paid equally for more than 40 years.

“Fifty years ago this year, the Equal Pay Act became law. Yet a punishing wage gap persists for women across the country,” Ness continued. “We must do more to close the wage gap, which is present in every part of the country and every industry, and affects workers with every level of education. Congress and the president can and must do more. We are urging Congress to prioritize passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act and urging President Obama to take executive action to ensure that federal contractors do not discriminate in pay.  It is past time the country finally make gender-based pay discrimination a thing of the past.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, help to break harmful patterns of wage discrimination, and establish stronger workplace protections for women; it was reintroduced in Congress in January. President Obama has been a vocal supporter of the bill, calling on Congress to pass it in his State of the Union address in February. Since then, the National Partnership and other advocates have urged the president to issue an executive order on fair pay, which would set an example for the nation’s employers and help ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to support discriminatory pay practices.

The National Partnership’s research on the wage gap was released the day before Equal Pay Day – which marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. The analysis uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and spans all 50 states and the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. Reports for each locality, along with state rankings, are available at www.NationalPartnership.org/Gap.