In 1948, just over a third of prime-age women had a job or were looking for one. By 1999, after five decades of progress, over 76% of prime age women were in the workforce. Since then, the participation rate has slipped more than 2% and the number of women not job hunting grew by more than 12,000.
The United States of America has gone more than 20 years without any major legislation making it easier for new parents to take time off or pay for childcare. On top of that, there is the gender pay gap, inflexible schedules that “lock women out of the executive suite and the always present undercurrent of discrimination at its worst.”
Mari Villaluna is an example of a single mother whose daycare expenses would be more than her salary, had she not decided to leave her job and become a stay-at-home mom. According to recent analysis by a Princeton researcher, parents’ hourly spending on child care has shot up since the mid-1990s to the point that annual child care can cost more than a year’s salary, before taxes. A Los Angeles Times report from May, 2017, it’s reported that women also seem to be leaving the workforce because middle class jobs are not plentiful and working at entry level salaries means working for less than bottom pay used to offer.
To make the point that discrimination and the gender gap in salary play a big part in some women’s decision to leave a job, a new study by Johns Hopkins University professor Robert Moffit found single women without children drove most of the downturn in women in the workforce. This was reportedly true for skilled as well as lower-level positions. In many women dominated fields for low-skill workers, hourly pay has increased less than 2% since 1990.
31-year old Krystin Stevenson has two children, but she had to give up her $40,000-a-year job as a customer service rep at a real estate firm two years ago because she lost her baby sitting support network. Stevenson, who lives in Denver and has two degrees, now cares for her mother and her children full time and collects unemployment. She told The New York Times she was trying to work and help her mother at the same time, but the job was just not flexible.
Another angle to this growing trend is that women who have dropped out did not typically leave work for the same reasons as men. For one, women are less likely to have a criminal record or a disability. Women are getting college degrees in greater numbers and many of the lowest paying jobs are actually growing faster than middle class occupations. Women are not necessarily playing video games either, which some economists suspect is luring men away from punching the clock. Men are also not leaving the job market, for the most part, to care for children or other family members.
In early August, 2017, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a fresh labor market survey In it, more than 1300 people were surveyed with answers stretching back to 2014. It found more than 7% of women left their jobs between April and June of this year with no plans to find a new one.That is the highest amount since the New York Fed started collecting data in 2014. Only 41% of women were satisfied with the promotion opportunities in their fields. On the issue of child care, the Economic Policy Institute found it costs about $22,000 each year to raise a child, putting many single mom’s annual income in the negative column if they work.
Some experts believe if the U.S. were to enact a paid parental leave policy, it would bring the country in line with most of the world. ©
by Dianne Thompson® comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org