Equal pay is important for women's economic well-being and that of their families. When men and women are paid differently for comparable work, women have fewer resources to support themselves and their families, to invest in additional education for themselves and their children, and to provide for retirement.
Once primarily male veteran problems, homelessness and economic struggles are escalating among female veterans, whose numbers have grown during the past decade of U.S. wars while resources for them haven't kept up. The population of female veterans without permanent shelter has more than doubled in the last half-dozen years and may continue climbing now that the Iraq war has ended, sending women home with the same stresses as their male counterparts — plus some gender-specific ones that make them more susceptible to homelessness.
The problem, a hurdle to the Obama administration's stated goal of ending veterans' homelessness by 2015, is exacerbated by a shortage of temporary housing specifically designed to be safe and welcoming to women or mothers with children. The spike comes even as the overall homeless veteran population has gone down, dropping by nearly 12 percent to about 67,500 between January 2010 and January 2011, officials say.
Within months of taking office, President Obama created the White House Council on Women and Girls with the explicit mandate to ensure that every agency, department, and office in our federal government – with the policies they draft, the programs they create, and the legislation they support – takes into account the needs and aspirations of American women and girls. Over the past three years, the Obama Administration has worked tirelessly to promote equality; enhance women’s economic security; and ensure that women have the opportunities they need and deserve at every stage of their lives, from obtaining training and education, to succeeding in the workforce and supporting their families, to retiring with dignity and security.
As we consider the quickly approaching future in which women are predicted to be the primary breadwinners in most households, African-American women have something unique to add to discussion as well—they’ve been living that “future” for a long time already.
Though obvious on its face, the point bears occasional repetition: When we speak of “women” in the feminist blogscape, we are often talking about a specific demographic profile; usually white, straight, middle-class and somewhat liberal. But in reality, of course, women are a far more diverse bunch, with a diversity of experience and perspective to match. As Amanda Marcotte and Libby Copeland have discussed here recently (in response to comments made by S.C. Governor Nikki Haley), conservative women see the contraception debate and the “War on Women” in general from a very different point of view than we might expect. And, as we consider the quickly approaching future in whichwomen are predicted to be the primary breadwinners in most households, African-American women have something unique to add to discussion as well—they’ve been living that “future” for a long time already.
According to a post by Zerlina Maxwell that’s making the rounds, Black women are already the “lifeblood” of their families in a community hard hit by the recession and in which men face added, often racist, obstacles to employment. The American Prospect had a piece back in 2008 exploring the issue, and the findings support Maxwell’s point:
Because of the limited economic prospects for black men, black women are likely to be both primary caregivers and primary breadwinners in our families. In nearly 44 percent of black families with children, a woman is the primary breadwinner. This includes both families headed by working single mothers and married-couple families in which the wife works and the husband does not. These female breadwinner families account for over 32 percent of aggregate black family income.
Two economists envision a scary -- and scarily realistic -- future where the working population expands slower and slower, and jobless recoveries are the only recoveries we know
In the future, U.S. growth will be slower. Recessions will be deeper. Recoveries will be weaker. And there's exactly one thing to blame.
That's the stark conclusion from James Stock and Mark Watson in this fascinating, and occasionally depressing, new paper. In fact, they say, the future is now. For the last few years, we've weathered the beginning of what demographers have called the grey tsunami. "Most of the slow recovery [in today's job market] is attributable to a long-term slowdown in trend employment growth," Stock and Watson write.
The authors blame two demographic demons for our uncertain future: (1) the plateau in the female labor force participation rate, and (2) the aging of the U.S. workforce. Their underlying logic is that without continued growth in female workers or a significant boost in population, employment and GDP growth will slow, leaving us vulnerable to recessions with "steeper declines and slower recoveries." In such a future, jobless recoveries will be the only recoveries we know.
Demographic Demon #1 WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION RATE
In the first half of the 20th century, female employment wasn't exactly a high-priority concern for policy makers. For the first 20 years of the century, women didn't have the right to vote. For the next 30 years, they barely made up a fifth of the labor force. Then everything changed.
The ascendance of women in the workforce was perhaps the singular cultural/economic triumph of the second half of the 20th century. In 1960, just four in ten working-age women were active in the labor force. By 1990, it was more like six in ten (see graph below of female participation rates). By 2010, women made up a majority of the workforce. But that growth appears to have hit a ceiling. The female participation rate in early 2011 was the same as in 1994. In that time, the male participation has fallen. That's not good news for a country that will require more workers to both grow the national pot of money and provide for an aging population transitioning out of the workplace.
A new analysis of US Census Bureau data performed by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) finds that 52% of elder-only households report incomes that do not cover basic, daily expenses. While the threat of economic insecurity affects elders of all backgrounds, it varies substantially by gender, race, age, household composition and other demographic characteristics. In order to assess the economic security of today's older adults, WOW compared 2010 incomes for elders who live alone or with a partner to the US Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index for their household compositions and housing statuses. The Doing Without series presents findings from this analysis.
The rich are different than you and me, and here’s one more bit of evidence that Adam Davidsonrecently dug up in the New York Times Magazine: the 1% is shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for childcare. He spoke with an elite nanny agency, plus some of these high-end nannies themselves, and discovered at least one making $180,000 a year plus an apartment and bonuses. Yet nannies making six figures are quite an exception to the low pay that is the norm for childcare workers.
Some memes have to be popped after they’ve already taken on steam, but sometimes we can get out in front of them. For one might be led to think that New Yorkers are paying top dollar to compensate their live-in childcare workers lavishly. It made Derek Thompson wonder, “How in the world can Manhattan nannies be worth $200,000 a year?” His answer is that there is a “Nanny Effect” to locally delivered services such as childcare. Because “most of the jobs in a service economy have a local clientele,” he says, “in cities where incomes are high, average price levels for these services are typically high.” Anyone who’s walked into a hair salon on the Upper West Side for a cheap cut will understand this phenomenon.
But the tale of the $200,000 nanny is an incredibly niche story. For the 99% of nannies, pay is actually quite low given the important work they do. In a2011 survey of 528 nannies across the country, the most common answer to an inquiry about how much they bring in pre-tax per week was $600. The second most common? A mere $300 or less per week. And things don’t get much better even in high-priced New York City. Live-in nannies, like the aforementioned $200,000 one, make an average of $713 a week, which comes to $37,076 a year. Even in posh Park Slope, home of high-priced strollers and children’s clothes that cost more than my nicest suit, on the books nannies earn $16.41 an hour. For those working 50 hours a week, that comes to just $42,666 a year.
Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake write in the Washington Post today about Mitt Romney's intensifying problems with women voters:
In mid-February, Obama took less than half of the vote from women under 50 years old. Now he wins more than 60 percent of them. (Obama is ahead of Romney among all women by 18 points.)
Cillizza and Blake point to the contraception debacle of recent weeks as the primary cause of the shift:
That rapid consolidation of women behind Obama seems directly attributable to the focus in the Republican presidential primary on contraception and other reproductive rights issues during the past six weeks or so.
Well, maybe. Up to a point.
But Republicans will make a grave mistake if they persuade themselves that it's social issues that most strongly motivate women voters.
There is no significant gender gap at all on abortion, for example, according to Pew Research.
No, men and women are divided on economic issues. (Also on issues of war and peace, but that is less pertinent today.) To simplify: American men (and especially white men) respond positively to the language of economic individualism. American women–not so much.
Take a look at this highly detailed study of policy attitudes from Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics. The data are based on polls from the mid-1990s, but the realities haven’t changed much in the intervening years:
Q: “Which of these statements comes closer to your own views – even if neither is exactly right? ‘The government should do more to help needy Americans – even if it means going deeper into debt.’ Or ‘The government today can’t afford to do much more to help the needy.’”
Among women, 53% answered “do more.” Among men, 43%.
Women have made great strides in the last 100 years, but they remain vastly underrepresented in elective office, scientific fields and the boardrooms of California. The Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California focuses on key areas crucial to the advancement of women. This is the state's first comprehensive look at key areas impacting women's lives, such as changing demographics, poverty, mental and physical health, incarceration, employment, the media and much more. It presents never-before-compiled data in a format for general use by women, legislators and community-based organizations.