Washington, D.C. — On March 8, as advocates observe International Women’s Day, women worldwide are expected to take part in the “A Day Without A Woman” strike to fight back against gender inequality, gender-based violence, and attacks on reproductive freedom. Ahead of the strike, a new analysis by the Center for American Progress, or CAP, finds that each year, women’s labor contributes $7.6 trillion to the United States’ gross domestic product, or GDP. If all paid working women in the United States took off a day of work, it would cost the country almost $21 billion in GDP.
The analysis, which also includes a breakdown of women’s contributions to GDP by state, underscores how significant and crucial women are to the health of the U.S. economy. In fact, women comprise of almost half of the U.S. workforce. Moreover, women’s earnings are becoming increasingly important to their families’ well-being: Previous research from CAP finds that nearly two-thirds of mothers were primary, sole, or co-breadwinners for their families in 2015—an increase from previous years.
“Women have long played a vital role in the economy, but women’s earnings and economic contributions are becoming more and more essential,” said Kate Bahn, an Economist at CAP and co-author of the analysis. “However, due to occupational segregation and the devaluation of jobs that women disproportionately hold, outdated labor standards, and insufficient work-family policies, women in the United States aren’t able to meet their full economic potential.”
Notably, economic measures such as GDP do not include unpaid labor, which is mostly taken on by women, meaning that women’s economic contributions extend far beyond paid labor. One analysis found that incorporating unpaid domestic work—such as housework and family caregiving—into U.S. GDP would raise it by 26 percent. Recognizing this value, the “A Day Without A Woman” strike encourages women to take a day off from not only paid labor but also unpaid labor.
At a time when women’s economic contributions are so vital to their families and the U.S. economy, America must do more to ensure its work-family policies fully address the challenges of today’s working families. Policymakers can start by putting in place family- and worker-friendly policies—such as paid family and medical leave, paid sick leave, and expanded access to high-quality, affordable child care—to ensure that all working families have the supports they need.
Read the analysis: A Day in the U.S. Economy Without Women by Kate Bahn and Annie McGrew
More facts on women’s economic security:
- Every year, working families in the United States lose out on at least $28.9 billion in lost wages because they lack access to affordable child care and paid family and medical leave.
- Black and Latina mothers are more likely to be breadwinners than white mothers: 70.7 percent of black mothers and 40.5 percent of Latina mothers were primary or sole breadwinners in 2015, compared with 37.4 percent of white mothers.
- Currently, women who work full time year round in the United States make, on average, just 80 cents for every $1 earned by men. For women of color, these disparities are even starker: 63 cents for African American women, 60 cents for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women, 58 cents for American Indian women, and 54 cents for Hispanic women.
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.478.5328.