For a more recent version of this fact sheet, see: “State Fact Sheets: Economic Security for Women and Families” by the Women’s Initiative
This fact sheet was originally published on October 5, 2015, and has been updated to reflect additional data.
In Nevada and across the United States, we need policies that promote economic security for women and families. Working families need higher livable wages, women need and deserve equal pay for equal work, and parents need to be able to maintain good jobs that allow them to work and raise their children simultaneously. Strong economic security policies will enable Nevada women and families to get ahead—not just get by.
Setting the right policies will not only help Nevada families gain economic security, they are also an important force for alleviating inequality. Policies that make it easier for Nevada women to balance work and family life have an important impact on inequality broadly: If women had not increased their labor force participation between 1963 and 2013, inequality in the state would be 8 percent higher today. To promote women’s economic security, Nevada’s policies should address the needs of working mothers and reflect the roles that women are playing to provide for their families. Here are seven areas in which policymakers and advocates can help women bolster their families’ economic security.
Provide access to paid sick days
Everyone gets sick, but not everyone is afforded the time to get better. Many women go to work sick or leave their sick children at home alone because they fear that they will be fired for missing work. Allowing employees to earn paid sick days helps keep families, communities, and the economy healthy.
- About 40 million U.S. employees, or 40 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce, do not have access to paid sick days. In Nevada, the rate is even higher: 49 percent of private-sector workers, or nearly 500,000 people, do not have paid sick days.
- If employees must stay home from work because they or their children are ill, the loss of pay can take a serious toll—particularly on low-income workers, who are the least likely to have access to paid sick leave.
Expand paid family and medical leave
Access to paid family and medical leave would allow workers to be with their newborn children during the crucial first stages of a child’s life, to care for an aging parent or spouse, or to recover from their own illness.
- The United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee access to paid maternity leave and one of only three developed countries that do not offer broader family and medical leave insurance. Only 12 percent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers.
- The National Partnership for Women & Families gave Nevada an “F”—the lowest possible grade—on policies that help parents of newborn children. Nevada does not significantly expand upon federal rights or protections guaranteed by federal law for state employees or private-sector workers.
Ensure equal pay
Although federal law prohibits unequal pay for equal work, there is more to do to ensure that both women and men enjoy the fullest protections against discrimination across Nevada.
- Women are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of U.S. families but continue to earn less than their male counterparts. Latinas and African American women experience the sharpest pay disparities.
- Nevada women earn just 85 cents for every dollar that Nevada men earn. The wage gap is even larger for black women and Latinas in Nevada, who respectively earn 64 cents and 53 cents for every dollar that white men earn.
Expand quality, affordable child care
Families need child care to be able to work, but many families lack access to high-quality child care options. Parents want and need child care that supports young children’s development and adequately prepares them for school.
- Sixty-four percent of Nevada children younger than age 6 have all available parents in the workforce, which makes access to affordable, high-quality child care a necessity.
- For a Nevada family with one infant and one 4-year-old, child care costs an average of $17,970 per year, or more than one-third of the median income for a Nevada family with children.
- Under the Center for American Progress’ High Quality Child Care Tax Credit, families in Nevada would, on average, save $6,895 annually compared with current child care costs. CAP’s proposal would also create a financial incentive for child care providers to improve their quality, therefore expanding access to high-quality child care programs for Nevadans.
Increase the minimum wage
Women make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers, and raising the minimum wage would help hardworking women across Nevada better support their families.
- Women make up nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage workers in the United States.
- Increasing the minimum wage to $12 per hour would boost wages for 187,000 women in Nevada and nearly 20 million women nationally. Almost 52 percent of the workers in Nevada who would be affected by raising the minimum wage to $12 are women.
Guarantee access to quality health care
Women need comprehensive reproductive health services—including access to abortion care—in order to thrive as breadwinners, caregivers, and employees.
- In 2013, 187,410 Nevada women were in need of publicly supported family planning services and supplies.
- Because federal Title X funding—which covers contraception, pregnancy testing, and cancer screenings—has not kept up with inflation and often faces the threat of cuts at the federal level, Nevada should step in and ensure that women have access to quality family planning resources.
Promote women’s political leadership
Across the United States, women are dramatically underrepresented in political office: They make up 51 percent of the population but only 29 percent of elected officials.
- Women make up 50 percent of Nevada’s population but only 35 percent of its elected officials.
- Women of color make up 24 percent of the state’s population but only 8 percent of its officeholders.
Ryan Erickson is the Associate Director of Economic Campaigns at the Center American Progress. Sarah Jane Glynn is the Director of Women’s Economic Policy at the Center. Heidi Williamson is the Senior Policy Analyst for the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center.
See the October 5, 2015, version of this fact sheet.