FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Modern Rules for Modern Careers

by

U.S. economic security and family well being go hand in hand, but the role of women who provide this stability in workplaces communities, and homes across our nation is underappreciated. Individually, American families today are well aware of the importance of women’s earnings, especially in working and middle class households where they increasingly pull in the bulk of the family pay. But writ large, if women were not working at the pace and scale they are today our economy would be smaller by $1.7 trillion, or 11 percent, compared to 35 years ago.

Or put another way, the growing income inequality between wealthy professionals and working and middle class families since the late 1970s would be demonstrably worse if not for the sustained entry of women into the workforce to support their families. In neighborhoods across our country, average wages for working and middle class family breadwinners (mostly men) barely kept pace with the rate of inflation over the past four decades, which means the rise of women in the workforce enabled these families to spend on their everyday needs and save for their children’s education and their own retirement.

Numbers like these – 41 percent of women work full time today, up from 27 percent in 1979, with the median number of hours worked by mothers with children in the household in both full- and part-time jobs rising to 1,560 hours a year compared to 600 in 1979 – demonstrate the overall importance of women’s earnings to our society and economy. After all, an additional $1.7 trillion is a lot of money earned and requires many more hours of work for women, who still shoulder much of the traditional care giving.

But these numbers don’t at all convey the struggles many women in the workforce face each and every day, especially primary caregivers who are also the predominant wage earner or who provide the financial wherewithal to keep their families from slipping down the ladder in society. For these women, workplaces designed when men were mostly the sole breadwinners – workplaces with no flexibility to care for children and elderly parents – leave so many women and men alike struggling to be responsible family members and good employees.

Our workplace laws and business employment practices date back to a far different, male-centric era, yet our economy and our society today rely on women to support their families at work and at home. It’s time for Congress to recognize this massive social shift by updating our workplace laws to match these new workplace realities.

This is not a heavy lift, either. Current workplace laws can easily be amended so that workers (men and women alike) can request flexible work schedules that still match the needs of their employers. And current laws that allow for unpaid family and medical leave and sick days can be changed to make these days off with pay so that mothers and fathers do not have to choose between caring for their kids or parents and losing a pay check or even their jobs.

Indeed, workers (men and women alike) who most need workplace flexibility tell researchers that they have the least access to it, mostly because their individual or combined earnings are barely enough to support their families if they don’t work as scheduled. One last sad set of numbers tells why these reforms are essential especially for working and middle class families: Only 19 percent of new mothers without a high school degree receive paid maternity leave today compared to 66 percent of those with a college degree. That’s just wrong.

Enacting common sense flexible work rules with paid family, medical, and sick leave would provide relief when family emergencies and everyday family needs – ones that currently bedevil so many moms and dads alike as they juggle work and family responsibilities – would secure family livelihoods and brighten family homes. Our society would be better off, our children and elderly better cared for, and our economy and our nation stronger and more resilient.

Eileen Appelbaum is a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Heather Boushey is executive director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

This article originally appeared on US News and World Report.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
Tony McKenna
The Oily Politics of Unity: Owen Smith as Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary
Nizar Visram
If North Korea Didn’t Exist US Would Create It
John Carroll Md
At St. Catherine’s Hospital, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Singaporean Conjucture
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Trump: the Birth of the Hero
Jill Richardson
Trump on Cuba: If Obama Did It, It’s Bad
Olivia Alperstein
Our President’s Word Wars
REZA FIYOUZAT
Useless Idiots or Useful Collaborators?
Clark T. Scott
Parallel in Significance
Louis Proyect
Hitler and the Lone Wolf Assassin
Julian Vigo
Theresa May Can’t Win for Losing
Richard Klin
Prog Rock: Pomp and Circumstance
Charles R. Larson
Review: Malin Persson Giolito’s “Quicksand”
David Yearsley
RIP: Pomp and Circumstance
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail