Washington, D.C. — In response to new data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the use of paid sick days and workplace flexibility, the Center for American Progress released a series of fact sheets on how conflicts over work-family balance impact the nation’s economy. The series offers context to the new BLS data that provides a clear picture of just how difficult balancing a job and a family is for most Americans by investigating the consequences of five specific issues facing workers today: paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, workplace flexibility, child care, and the wage gap. The papers also illustrate how common sense policies to support hardworking American families are good for businesses and the economy.
“Most Americans are working hard to pay their bills and to take care of their families, yet new survey data released today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 40 percent of workers—55.2 million people—do not have access to paid leave and these workers are more likely to be less educated, Hispanic or Latino, younger, and earn less than those who do have access,” said Center for American Progress Senior Economist Heather Boushey in a statement earlier today.
As the new BLS data demonstrates, too many employers make it impossible to juggle work and family obligations. In fact, only about half of workers (55.9 percent) have the flexibility to adjust their work schedules to care for a child or elderly parent. And the danger of losing a job or missing a promotion because of illness, pregnancy, or taking care of loved ones when working at companies focused solely on the bottom line leaves too many moms and dads having to choose between their jobs and their families.
About half of all workers on U.S. payrolls today are women. Moreover, the majority of mothers, whether married or single, work outside the home, meaning that in most American families, all of the adults work and there is no full-time, stay-at-home caregiver. This is not just a “women’s issue” since the changing nature of our families impacts men and women, adults, and children. Indeed, as our population continues to rapidly age, more and more workers are finding themselves providing elder care to their aging parents as well.
While our workforce and families have changed dramatically, our nation’s labor standards have not been updated in decades. There are sensible policies that would assist families while simultaneously helping employers’ bottom lines, but both employers and policymakers have been slow to recognize how fundamentally our lives have changed and what needs to be done to make our workplace policies match the way that we live and work today.
- Paid Sick Days Work for U.S. Employees and Employers by Jane Farrell and Joanna Venator
- Paid Family and Medical Leave: Updated Labor Standards Could Help U.S. Workers Make Ends Meet by Sarah Jane Glynn
- Workplace Flexibility: Allowing Employees Some Leeway is Good for Business and the Economy by Sarah Jane Gynn and Joanna Venator
- The Wage Gap for Women by Sarah Jane Glynn
- Child Care: Families Need More Help to Care for Their Children by Sarah Jane Glynn
The following experts from the Center for American Progress are available for comment on the release of this new data:
- Neera Tanden, President
- Heather Boushey, Senior Economist
- Judith Warner, Senior Fellow
- Tara McGuinness, Senior VP for Communications
- Sarah Jane Glynn, Policy Analyst
- Vanessa Cardenas, Director of Progress 2050
To speak with a CAP expert, please contact Katie Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.741.6285.