Today’s Forum For Women And Working Family Economic Security Discussed How To Help Women And Families
Though there has been a lot of talk about Iowa as the 2016 primaries draw closer, there has been little said about the real challenges for families in the Hawkeye state. As a new report from the Center for American Progress highlights, Iowa families are feeling the same economic squeeze as families across the country. The median household income in Iowa is no higher than it was 15 years ago, while the real costs of necessities for middle class families are higher than ever. Families—especially women—have to choose between taking care of their family and making ends meet.
The economic squeeze for families is a problem, especially for Iowa, a state in which women have been central to the economic growth over the past 30 years. In fact, if women’s earnings had not increased in the past 50 years, economic inequality in Iowa would have grown 85 percent faster. And in Iowa, mothers are the sole, primary, or co-breadwinners in the 71.1 percent of families with children. Clearly, supporting women is good for the economy, both in Iowa and across the country. Today, at a Forum for Women and Working Family Economic Security in Des Moines, policymakers and advocates emphasized the need for updating the policies that support the economic security of women and families in Iowa and across the country, so the economy and families can thrive. Here are some of the policies we need to help families:
- Making high-quality, affordable child care accessible. More than three in four Iowan children younger than 6 have both parents in the workforce, yet high-quality child care remains out of reach for families, costing an Iowa family with one infant and one 4-year-old an average of $17,000 per year. A new CAP proposal would facilitate high-quality child care arrangements that support financial security for working families, saving Iowa families an average of $5,985 per year
- Promoting equal pay. Currently, women in Iowa make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. National legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act would help ensure that women are paid what they’re worth.
- Guaranteeing access to paid sick days. 45 percent of private sector workers in Iowa do not have paid sick days. Families in Iowa and across the country need guaranteed paid sick days to help ensure that something as common as a child getting a cold does not result in a parent losing his or her job.
- Ensuring access to paid family and medical leave. The United States remains the only advanced economy that does not guarantee paid time off for working parents to care for a new child and is one of the only high-income nations that does not guarantee workers paid sick leave. This places a significant burden on working families, including Iowa women and mothers.
BOTTOM LINE: As Sally Pederson, the former Iowa lieutenant governor, said at today’s forum, “Today is about the economic security not only of Iowa, but also the nation. Both need serious updating.” Indeed, there is broad support for family-friendly policies in Iowa and beyond. We need policies such like affordable childcare, equal pay, paid sick leave, and paid family leave so that our families can thrive and our economy can continue to grow.
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