Why the Working Families Policy Discussion Is Important For Everyone

On Wednesday, President Obama met with working mothers and fathers in Charlotte, North Carolina, to discuss the priorities that matter most to their families, aiming to start a conversation about workplace policies that could lead to the improvement of lives across the country. For those who can’t voice their concerns with the President face-to-face, there are still opportunities to share important and influential thoughts. Twitter users are encouraged to use the hashtag #ObamaTownHall to express their ideas. Alternatively, visitors on BlogHer and SheKnows can submit questions in the comment sections of relevant articles and blog posts.

While you might not be a household caretaker or supporting a family, these issues regarding the workplace have an effect on everyone. If you need some stats to back that up, Valerie Jarrett lists the following reasons on BlogHer why updated policies for working families has never been more relevant: 

  1. 60 percent of children are in households where all parents work—including both dual-earner households and single working parents.
  2. Nearly half of all parents say that they turned down a job because of inadequate work-family balance.
  3. Child care costs have increased 72 percent in the last 25 years, after adjusting for inflation. In three out of five states, child care for an infant costs more than a public university for an 18-year-old.
  4. More than half of college and graduate students are now women. Since the mid-1990s, women have accounted for the majority of postsecondary students, meaning that they will account for the majority of our skilled labor force in the future. In 2013, women ages 25-34 were more than 20 percent more likely than men to be college graduates.
  5. But, among second-earners, women are 17 percentage points more likely to eventually leave the workforce compared to men. In fact, the US is falling behind its peers in keeping women in the workforce. In 1990, the United States ranked 7th out of 24 current developed countries reporting prime-age female labor force participation, about 8 percentage points higher than the average of that sample. By 2013 the United States had fallen to 19th out of those same 24 countries. A recent study found that the relative expansion of family leave and part-time work programs in other developed countries versus the United States explains nearly one-third of the United States’ relative decline.
  6. Children whose mothers received paid maternity leave earn 5 percent higher wages at age 30. Family-friendly practices can also help encourage better bonding between parents and children, which has been shown to lead to better outcomes for children in adulthood. For instance, researchers have shown that children of women who receive paid maternity leave earn 5 percent higher wages at age 30.
  7. On average for every $1 men earn, women still make just 78 cents. That means the average women will have lost $420,000 over her lifetime because of the earnings gap.
  8. Women who reach age 65 are projected to live about 2.5 years longer than 65 year-old men. That means their retirement years could be almost 14 percent longer, putting a premium on retirement saving for women. In part because of the gender pay gap, women continue to be less prepared for retirement than men. 63 percent of the elderly living below the poverty line are women.
  9. More women in senior roles makes for better, more innovative companies. Greater representation of women in top management positions is associated with better firm performance on several dimensions, and research also finds that women can help drive innovation and better target female customers and employees.
  10. Closing the Male-Female Employment gap could boost U.S. GDP by 9 percent—or more than $1.5 trillion, about $5,000 for every man, woman, and child. The best available evidence suggests that encouraging more firms to consider adopting flexible practices can potentially boost productivity, improve morale, and benefit the U.S. economy as a whole.


Valerie Jarrett and The White House Summit on Working Families

MAKERS Interviews Leaders at The White House Summit On Working Families

Most Working Parents