Fast Facts: Economic Security for Ohio Families

Marsha Lawson talks with a potential employer at the Cleveland Career Fair in Independence, Ohio, on June 12, 2014.

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 Ohio 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 Ohio women and families to get ahead—not just get by.

Family structure is shifting significantly. For most Ohioans, the days of the full-time, stay-at-home mom are long in the past: Mothers are the sole, primary, or co-breadwinners in 68.1 percent of Ohio families. To promote women’s economic security, Ohio’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 Ohio, the rate is even higher: Nearly 46 percent of private-sector workers, or 1.9 million 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 Ohio a “D”—the second-lowest possible grade—on policies that help parents of newborn children. With the exception of state workers, Ohio does not offer adequate protections to new parents beyond the unpaid leave available to workers under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

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 Ohio.

  • 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.
  • Ohio women earn just less than 77 cents for every dollar that Ohio men earn; if the wage gap continues to close at its current rate, women will not receive equal pay until 2066. The wage gap is even larger for black women and Latinas in Ohio, who earn 66 cents and 64 cents, respectively, 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-nine percent of Ohio children younger than age 6 have all available, or resident, parents in the workforce, which makes access to affordable, high-quality child care a necessity.
  • For an Ohio family with one infant and one 4-year-old, child care costs an average of $14,258 per year, or just less than one-quarter of the median income for an Ohio family with children.

Increase the minimum wage

Women make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers, and raising the minimum wage would help hardworking women across Ohio 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 830,000 women in Ohio and nearly 16 million women nationally. Nearly 62 percent of the workers 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 2012, 727,000 Ohio women were in need of publicly funded 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, Ohio 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 Ohio’s population but only 27 percent of its elected officials.
  • Women of color make up 10 percent of the state’s population but only 3 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.