Fast Facts: Economic Security for Arizona Families

The right policies can go a long way toward helping all Arizona women gain economic security.

Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF and Scribd versions.

For a more recent version of this fact sheet, see: “State Fact Sheets: Economic Security for Women and Families” by the Women’s Initiative

In Arizona 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 Arizona’s women and families to get ahead—not just get by

For most Arizonians, the days of the stay-at-home mom are history: Mothers are the primary or co-breadwinners in 59.3 percent of Arizona families. This is not surprising since most women in the state work—more than 6 in 10 of Arizona women are in the labor force. To promote women’s economic security, Arizona’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 Arizona, the rate is even higher: 45 percent of private-sector workers, or more than 900,000 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 13 percent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers.
  • The National Partnership for Women & Families gave Arizona an “F”— the lowest possible grade on policies that help parents of newborn children. Arizona law does not expand upon federal rights or protections for new and expectant parents who are state employees or work in the private sector.

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 Arizona.

  • 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.
  • Arizona women earn just 83.5 cents for every dollar that Arizona men earn. The wage gap is even larger for black women and Latinas in Arizona, who respectively earn 67.1 cents and 54.2 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.

  • Fifty-nine percent of Arizona children younger than age 6 have all available parents in the workforce, which makes access to affordable, high-quality child care a necessity.
  • For an Arizona family with one infant and one 4-year-old, child care costs an average of $17,838 per year, or nearly one-third of the median income for an Arizona family with children.
  • Under the Center for American Progress’ High Quality Child Care Tax Credit, families in Arizona would, on average, save $5,966 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 Arizonians.

Increase the minimum wage

Women make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers, and raising the minimum wage would help hardworking women across Arizona 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 404,000 women in Arizona and nearly 20 million women nationally. Almost 52 percent of the workers in Arizona 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, 808,340 Arizona 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, Arizona 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 51 percent of Arizona’s population but only 37 percent of its elected officials.
  • Women of color make up 22 percent of the state’s population but only 10 percent of its officeholders.

Ryan Erickson is the Associate Director of Economic Campaigns at the Center for American Progress. Danielle Corley is a Research Assistant for Women’s Economic Policy at the Center.