Issue Brief | November 23, 2016 | By Marilyn Watkins

Executive Summary

A just-released study funded by a U.S. Department of Labor grant to the State of Washington shows strong public support for a paid family and medical leave program – and new cost estimates that put such a program easily within reach of most workers and employers:

  • Three in four Washington voters support a state paid family and medical leave program, with strong support across party identification, gender, age, and income.
  • Strong majorities of voters favor a comprehensive program with shared premiums for employees and employers.
  • A paid family and medical leave program to care for a new child, seriously ill family member, or a worker’s own serious health condition would cost a typical worker less than a cup of coffee each week.
  • A paid family leave program would reduce the use of TANF (welfare) by new parents.

The study also included interviews with 30 employers and estimates of potential reductions in TANF (welfare) and SNAP (food stamps) usage by new mothers due to paid family leave.

California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island have established programs  that provide wage replacement for 26 to 52 weeks for the worker’s own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth-related disability, and from 4 to 12 additional weeks of paid family leave to care for a newborn or newly placed child or for a seriously ill family member. The programs are typically funded through payroll premiums.

A number of other states, including Washington, are considering establishing similar programs.


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Issue Brief | October 20, 2016 | By Carolanne Sanders, John Burbank

Executive Summary

Washington has taken commendable steps toward building a high quality early childhood education system. Substantive public investment in early learning – primarily through the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and Early Achievers Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) –  is expanding access, albeit to a limited degree, to affordable, quality child care.

However, a fundamental component is still missing from the state’s strategy: a well-compensated workforce. Despite the fact that pay incentives for additional education or years of experience promotes workforce retention and is directly linked to improved quality of care, wages for people working in child care remain near poverty level.

Integrating the state’s Child Care Career and Wage Ladder (already in law) with Early Achievers QRIS would tie compensation to quality – a tangible step toward improving early childhood education across Washington.

Steps forward: Investments in early learning via ECEAP and Early Achievers

Washington has made some substantive public investments in early learning that have successfully expanded access to affordable, quality child care – though the limited scope and implementation of these initiatives means they are far from a comprehensive solution.

The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) provides part-time to full-time care and education for eligible low-income 3- and 4-year olds across the state – but the number of eligible children far outnumbers available ECEAP slots. For the most part, ECEAP’s income ceilings limit eligibility to children in families at or below 110% of federal poverty level: $22,176 for a family of three and $26,730 for a family of four. Consequently, 80% of 3 and 4-year olds statewide do not qualify for assistance through the program. Even among those who do qualify, two-thirds are still unable to receive care.[1]

The Early Achievers QRIS (quality rating and improvement system) for child care providers is a work in progress. Designed around the nuances of child development and early learning theory, this 5-level QRIS system is intended to sustain the state through many years of quality improvement. Though its function is clear, the form of Early Achievers QRIS has proven difficult for child care providers to navigate, with their ability to advance through the levels limited by understaffing and high turnover rates. Just 3,596 licensed providers have enrolled, and less than 19% had moved beyond Level 2 in the program as of August 2016.[2]

ECEAP Funding 2005 to 2015 (2016 constant dollars, $millions). Source: Enacted Bills & Legislative Budget. Notes: Inflation-adjusted to 2016 constant dollars using Consumer Price Index.[3]

Total 3- to 4-year-old population vs ECEAP-eligible population, Washington Sources: EOI analysis using calculation guidelines from the Caseload Forecast Council, data from Washington Department of Early Learning and Washington State Office of Financial Management.

[4] [5] [6]

Number of ECEAP eligible children vs. annual ECEAP capacity, Washington Sources: EOI analysis using calculation guidelines from the Caseload Forecast Council, data from Washington Department of Early Learning and Washington State Office of Financial Management.

[7] [8] [9]

Early Learning vs. Early Childhood Education vs. Child Care

Scientific research points to early life as a critical period: cognitive and socioemotional development is rapid and profound for the first two years, then continues throughout early childhood. State and federal public policy hasn’t caught up to this understanding yet, and often differentiates between the three terms. For example, many centers in Washington offer both “child care” and “early learning” programs for children of the same age – the difference between them being length of day, program curriculum, and teacher qualifications. 

To get a strong start in life, children of all ages need to have their physical, social and emotional needs met and have lots of opportunities to learn. The infant and toddler years provide the foundation for a child’s development into a strong learner and social being. As such, the terms “early learning,” “early childhood education,” and “child care” go hand-in-hand – and are used interchangeably throughout this brief in reference to the valuable work of both caring for and educating children from birth through age five.

Low compensation, lack of workforce support hampering improvements

While Washington’s early learning policies (rightly) aim to support families and children, they don’t consider what kinds of support are necessary for people providing child care to actually carry out improvements. For example, built-in wage incentives for additional education or years of experience are directly linked to improved quality of care.[10] Yet such support is not included in the state’s strategy for improving early learning.

Financial security is recognized as an important factor in job performance and satisfaction in many sectors. Surveys show public esteem for early childhood teachers is high: roughly 90% of U.S. voters consider early childhood educators to be important members of the community, on par with nurses and firefighters.[11]

But with an annual income lower than that of pest control workers and tree trimmers,[12] child care workers make so little money that their families often qualify for the very ECEAP or Head Start programs in which they teach. Since 2010 the median wage for child care workers in Washington has increased by just 2%, while the median wage for pre-K teachers has actually decreased by 5%.[13] 39% of child care workers’ families participate in Medicaid, SNAP (Basic Food), and other public assistance programs.[14]

In every workplace, dignity, support, financial security and pay incentives enable professional excellence. Child care is no exception. As long as child care compensation remains near poverty level, efforts to improve quality will be less than fruitful. Absent a workforce-based mechanism through which quality can be achieved and sustained, legislating higher standards serves only to raise the bar for child care provider performance – not to help providers reach it.

Hourly wages for child care workers, 2006-14 (2016 constant dollars) Sources: EOI analysis; data from Licensed Child Care in Washington State: Market Rate Surveys. Note: Market Rate Surveys present aggregate wage data across all child care center types and disaggregate salary data. Inflation-adjusted to 2016 constant dollars using Consumer Price Index.

[15]

Wages for Lead Teachers from all child care centers including ECEAP vs. ECEAP Lead Teacher wages, 2006-14 (2016 constant dollars). Sources: Licensed Child Care in Washington State: Market Rate Surveys 2014 and Washington Department of Early Learning. Inflation-adjusted to 2016 constant dollars using Consumer Price Index.

[16] [17]

Wages for Assistant Teachers from all child care centers including ECEAP vs. ECEAP Assistant Teacher wages, 2006-14 (2016 constant dollars). Sources: Licensed Child Care in Washington State: Market Rate Surveys 2014 and Department of Early Learning. Inflation-adjusted to 2016 constant dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

[18] [19]

Wage Ladder History

The Ladder originated as a pilot program through the executive action by Governor Gary Locke in 1999. The program was initially allocated $4 million, then $8 million in the 2001-03 biennium. Funding was discontinued after the 2002 recession, but the Wage Ladder’s success—demonstrated by a three-year external evaluation—prompted legislators to pass the Child Care Career and Wage Ladder into law in 2005 (HB 1636), and a supporting budget allocation the following year. Despite its effectiveness, the Ladder lost funding in 2011 amidst a series budget cuts related to the economic downturn and the end of federal stimulus funding.

Today the Wage Ladder remains a part of state law, though without fiscal backing – despite a $200 million+ overall funding increase for the Department of Early Learning since the 2009-2011 biennium, and a $75 million increase in funding for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) over the same period.

The Wage Ladder: Building capacity and promoting professional excellence

As the state continues to move toward full economic recovery the need for caregivers and early educators will only grow; for ECEAP alone, Washington will need 266 more classrooms – and trained lead teachers and assistant teachers to staff them – by the year 2020.[20] ECEAP and Early Achievers alone cannot stimulate the growth in child care capacity that is desperately needed across the state. The Career and Wage Ladder can help retain already-committed professionals and attract new people to the field.

By providing state-subsidized wage increases for people working in child care who achieve additional formal education and/or remain in the child care workforce for an extended time, the Child Care Career and Wage Ladder can facilitate career development among existing teachers and improve worker retention. It would also attract new talent to the sector – and if structured well, could incentivize faster adoption of the Early Achievers program among providers while building additional child care capacity.

As noted in the Wage Ladder matrix (see Appendix), child care workers would receive incremental wage increases based on: years of work experience and increased job responsibility, high school diploma/GED attainment, and quarter credits obtained at a Washington community, technical, or four-year college.

These wage increases should be funded directly via a combination of state-financed revenue stream for compensation increments, and parallel center-based enhancements. Funding the Career and Wage Ladder does not require the passage of new legislation and could be leveraged as a “down payment” on child care compensation while a larger suite of sustainable, innovative solutions is developed.

The Ladder would best meet the needs of today’s child care worker and family needs by being fully integrated with Early Achievers, the state’s agreed-upon pathway towards quality improvement in the early learning system. Ideally, once enrolled in Early Achievers, any licensed child care facility, including family home child care providers, would be able to adopt the Career and Wage Ladder.[21] Under that scenario, $20 million of biennial budget funding for the Career and Wage Ladder ($10 million per fiscal year, or about a $.50 raise per teacher[22]) would cover over 10,000 child care workers and roughly 40% of child care centers across the state.[23]

Source: Enacted Bills & Legislative Budget Notes. Inflation-adjusted to 2016 constant dollars using Consumer Price Index.

[24]

Conclusion

The Early Start Act, ECEAP, and Early Achievers already point in the direction of excellence. Complementary workforce policies are essential for achieving it. Washington’s previous experience with the Career and Wage Ladder illustrates that investing in the child care workforce is a natural driver of high-quality early learning. Refunding the Ladder is a readily-available pathway toward meeting the state’s present and future need for high quality early childhood education. In so doing, legislators can ensure people working in child care are compensated more fairly, promote workforce development, and incentivize quality improvement in a way that reflects the social value of high-quality early childhood education.

Appendix

Career and Wage Ladder Matrix July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011 Washington Department of Early Learning

Click to enlarge

Notes

[1] Based on analysis of ECEAP legislation WAC 170-100-080 (amending WSR 10-20-059) and annual slots as reported by Washington Department of Early Learning.

[2] As of August 2016, based on EOI analysis of data from Child Care Aware of Washington, http://wa.childcareaware.org/about-us/data..

[3] Budgets, Washington State LEAP Committee, http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/index_lbns.asp.

[4] Washington Department of Early Learning ECEAP Handout, Caseload Forecast Council, 15 June 2016, http://www.cfc.wa.gov/Handouts/DEL_ECEAP.pdf.

[5] Based on analysis of unpublished data from the Washington State Department of Early Learning.

[6] November 2015 State Population Forecast, Office of Financial Management, http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/stfc/.

[7] Washington Department of Early Learning ECEAP Handout, Caseload Forecast Council, 15 June 2016, http://www.cfc.wa.gov/Handouts/DEL_ECEAP.pdf.

[8] Licensed Child Care in Washington State: Market Rate Surveys 2006-2014, Washington Department of Early Learning, http://www.del.wa.gov/publications/research/default.aspx.

[9] November 2015 State Population Forecast, Office of Financial Management, http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/stfc/.

[10]   Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study, Marcy Whitebook, Deborah Phillips, and Carollee Howes, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, the State University of New Jersey, 2012, http://cscce.berkeley.edu/files/2014/ReportFINAL.pdf.

[11] Early Ed for President: Advancing the Power of the Profession, National Association for the Education of Young Children, https://www.cdcccc.org/uploads/pdf/1460143195_EEFP%20Presentation.Albany.pdf.

[12] Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study, Marcy Whitebook, Deborah Phillips, and Carollee Howes, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, the State University of New Jersey, 2012, http://cscce.berkeley.edu/files/2014/ReportFINAL.pdf.

[13] Early Child Workforce Index 2016 – Washington, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, http://cscce.berkeley.edu/files/2016/Index-2016-Washington.pdf.

[14] Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study, Marcy Whitebook, Deborah Phillips, and Carollee Howes, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, the State University of New Jersey, 2012, http://cscce.berkeley.edu/files/2014/ReportFINAL.pdf.

[15] Licensed Child Care in Washington State: Market Rate Surveys 2006-2014, Washington Department of Early Learning, http://www.del.wa.gov/publications/research/default.aspx.

[16] Licensed Child Care in Washington State: 2014 Market Rate Survey, Department of Early Learning, http://www.del.wa.gov/publications/research/default.aspx.

[17] Washington State Department of Early Learning ECEAP Handout, Caseload Forecast Council, 15 June 2016, http://www.cfc.wa.gov/Handouts/DEL_ECEAP.pdf.

[18] Licensed Child Care in Washington State: 2014 Market Rate Survey, Department of Early Learning, http://www.del.wa.gov/publications/research/default.aspx.

[19] Based on analysis of unpublished data from the Washington State Department of Early Learning.

[20] Washington Makes Gains in Pre-K Funding and Enrollment, Department of Early Learning, 12 May 2016, https://www.del.wa.gov/node/28.

[21] Prior to 2012, family home child care providers were not included in the Career and Wage Ladder. The law, however, is quite flexible when it comes to minimum standards of eligibility, making the inclusion of licensed family providers an issue easily addressed through budget proviso language.

[22] Projection based on full day, year-round child care, or a 2,080-hour work year for the average teacher.

[23] Licensed Child Care in Washington State: 2014 Market Rate Survey, Washington Department of Early Learning, http://www.del.wa.gov/publications/research/default.asp.

[24] Budgets, Washington State LEAP Committee, http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/index_lbns.asp.


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Early LearningPosted in %s, Educational Opportunity

Issue Brief | October 20, 2016 | By Marilyn Watkins

Executive Summary

Seattle’s job boom may be making headlines, but new data show the economy is growing across Washington state. Employment markets from Spokane to Longview have experienced several years of job growth. In most counties, typical household incomes are also up, while poverty rates are down.

But the news is not all good. Across the state, costs for housing and other basics have risen dramatically.  Because general inflation has been low and Washington’s minimum wage is tied to the Consumer Price Index, the statewide minimum wage did not go up at all in 2016 and is slated to increase only 6 cents to $9.53 in 2017.[1] These factors make the initiative to raise Washington’s minimum wage in four stages to $13.50 in 2020 and include paid sick and safe leave as a basic labor standard particularly well-timed.

Widespread Job Growth

All of Washington’s large and mid-sized urban areas are gaining jobs and have more jobs now than before the Great Recession began in late 2008. Smaller communities, such as the Port Angeles area and Lewis County, are below the 2008 level, but for the most part have also seen an uptick in jobs in recent years.[2]

Nonfarm Jobs in Seattle Area and Remainder of Washington State, 2008-2016 (in August of Each Year) Source: Washington Employment Security Department, nonagricultural employment estimates, seasonally adjusted

Nonfarm Jobs in Tacoma and Spokane MSAs, 2008-2016 (August) Source: Washington Employment Security Department, nonagricultural employment estimates, seasonally adjusted

Nonfarm Jobs in Mid-Size Metropolitan Regions, 2008-2016 (August) Source: Washington Employment Security Department, nonagricultural employment estimates, seasonally adjusted

Nonfarm Jobs in Mid-Size Metropolitan Regions, 2008-2016 (August) Source: Washington Employment Security Department, nonagricultural employment estimates, seasonally adjusted

Nonfarm Jobs in Smaller Washington Cities, 2008-2016 (August) Source: Washington Employment Security Department, nonagricultural employment estimates, not seasonally adjusted

Improving Incomes

Newly released American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the typical household in most counties in the state experienced real income growth between 2014 and 2015. Rates of health insurance coverage also rose in every county. Statewide health insurance coverage increased from 90.8% to 93.4%. Meanwhile, the number of individuals and children living below the federal poverty level fell in most counties, in some cases dramatically.[3]

Median Household Incomes by County, 2014 and 2015, in 2015 Inflation Adjusted Dollars Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2015, 1-year estimates

Percentage of All People Below the Poverty Level by County, 2014 and 2015 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2015, 1-year estimates

Percentage of Children Below the Poverty Level by County, 2014 and 2015 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2015, 1-year estimates

Pressure on Family Budgets

Not all the economic news is good. The top 25 occupations that are growing and are projected to have the most job openings over the next five years include computer-related and business jobs that usually come with high pay and full benefit packages, and family-wage jobs in construction and healthcare. However, the list also includes tens of thousands of positions in fast food, restaurants, retail sales, personal care, and office administration – where current wages often are not enough to support a single person, let alone a family.[4] Many of these lower paying jobs also lack basic benefits including paid sick leave, adding to the level of economic insecurity.[5]

Basic expenses including rent have risen sharply faster than inflation in most parts of the state. According to Zillow, the average rent for a 1-bedroom in Washington went up 8.4% from August 2015 to August 2016, with the largest gains outside the Seattle metro area. Only Aberdeen and Pullman posted modest declines.[6] Childcare costs are also escalating out of reach. Washington now ranks 6th in the nation for least-affordable infant care costs.[7] Average cost for infant care in Washington consumed 29% to 38% of median state earnings in 2014.[8]

Average Rent for 1-Bedroom, Aug 2016, Zillow.com, Source: Zillow.com, Washington Home Prices and Values, August, 2016

Impacts of Minimum Wage Increases and Paid Sick Leave Standards

Most states, like Washington, have diverse economic regions and include large cities, small towns, and rural communities. Over the past two decades, dozens of states have raised their minimum wages at different times. Economic studies consistently document higher earnings for low wage workers as a result, but have varied in their conclusions about whether or not raising wages impacts job growth. Typically, those studies that control for economic trends and differences among states and regions have found little to no impact on employment, while those that do not control for such differences often have found a small negative effect.[9]

Probably the most comprehensive study by Dube, Lester, and Reich in 2010 compared every pair of counties across state lines with different minimum wages over a sixteen-year period. They found on average no impact on the number of jobs in counties which had experienced a minimum wage increase. They also documented higher incomes and longer job tenures among low wage workers in counties with increased minimum wages.[10] The reduction in costly turnover, increase in productivity, and increase in spending by low wage workers following a minimum wage hike help explain how employers are able to pay higher wages and maintain jobs with at most a modest increase in prices.[11] The percentage increase proposed for Washington’s minimum wage under Initiative 1433 is well within the range of those included in these studies.[12]

Conclusion

Our modern economy is complex and will continue to have a mix of low, moderate, and high wage jobs. Over 90% of people working at or near minimum wage are adults, the majority contribute significantly to household income, and many are parents.[13] People working hard in restaurants, retail shops, caring for vulnerable children and elderly people, and other traditionally low-wage occupations should be able to cover the basics. Raising Washington’s minimum wage and assuring that people do not lose income because of illness are long overdue in every part of the state.

Notes

[1] Washington Department of Labor and Industries, News Release: “Minimum wage in Washington to increase 6 cents in 2017,” Sep 28, 2016, http://www.lni.wa.gov/News/2016/pr160928a.asp.

[2] Comparing August nonagricultural wage and salary historical employment estimates, seasonally adjusted for metropolitan areas and not seasonally adjusted for smaller counties, Washington Employment Security Department website viewed Sep 30, 2016, https://esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo/employment-estimates.

[3] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2015 1-year estimates, comparative tables.

[4] Washington Employment Security Department, Employment Projections, https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/employmentdata/reports-publications/industry-reports/employment-projections; and “Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,” https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/employmentdata/reports-publications/occupational-reports/occupational-employment-and-wage-estimates.

[5] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employee Benefits Survey 2015, Table 32, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2015/ownership/private/table32a.pdf.

[6] Zillow.com, Washington Home Prices and Values (August 2016), viewed Oct 4, 2016.

[7] Child Care Aware of Washington, “Washington’s Child Care Costs Are Among The Highest In The Nation, According To Child Care Aware Of America’s Annual High Cost Of Child Care Report,” press release December 2015, http://wa.childcareaware.org/news/2015-high-cost-of-child-care-press-release.

[8] Economic Opportunity Institute analysis of Child Care Aware of Washington and U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2014 data.

[9] Daniel Kuehn, “The Importance of Study Design in the Minimum Wage Debate,” Economic Policy Institute, Sep. 2014, http://www.epi.org/publication/importance-study-design-minimum-wage-debate/.

[10] Arindrajit Dube, T. William Lester, and Michael Reich, “Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties,“The Review of Economics and Statistics, November 2010,http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/REST_a_00039.

[11] John Schmitt, “Why does the minimum wage have no discernible effect on employment?” Center for Economic and Policy Research, Feb 2013, http://cepr.net/documents/publications/min-wage-2013-02.pdf.

[12] U.S. Department of Labor, “Changes In Basic Minimum Wages In Non-Farm Employment Under State Law: Selected Years 1968 to 2016,” viewed Oct 13, 2016, https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/stateMinWageHis.htm.

[13] Washington Budget and Policy Center, “Raising Minimum Wage Frequently Asked Questions,” Jan 2016, http://budgetandpolicy.org/2016_Jan_4_Minimum%20Wage%20QA.pdf; and Economic Policy Institute, State Tables: Characteristics of workers who would be affected by increasing the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020, 2015, http://www.epi.org/files/2015/revised-minimum-wage-state-tables.pdf.


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Fact Sheet | September 28, 2016 | By Marilyn Watkins

Executive Summary

A new baby, cancer diagnosis, or dying parent – occasionally we all need to take extended time away from work to care for family or health. California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island have programs to provide all workers with paid leave when a new child arrives in the family or a serious health condition strikes. Washington needs Paid Family and Medical Leave!

Women, babies, and elders pay a high price for the status quo:

  • For most U.S. workers, access to paid leave depends on employer policies. Even with the growing number of city and state paid sick days laws,[1] 39% of private sector workers get no paid sick leave and just 12% receive paid family leave. Among the lowest wage workers – disproportionately women of all races and men of color – 78% lack sick leave and 97% lack paid family leave.[2]
  • Federal policy provides only 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a new baby or the serious health condition of a worker or family member. 41% aren’t even covered because their employer has fewer than 50 employees, or they haven’t worked a full year or enough hours for their employer.[3]
  • Public health experts have found strong links between expanding paid maternity leave and decreasing infant deaths.[4] The U.S. is the only developed economy without universal paid maternity leave – and ranked 30th in infant deaths in 2013.[5] If Washington had the same infant death rate as British Columbia, 2 fewer infants would die each week in our state, a 23% reduction.[6]
  • Now, new parents cobble together time to nurture their precious newborn from saved up vacation and sick leave – if they have it – and whatever unpaid leave they can afford.[7] Despite the high cost of infant childcare and pediatricians’ recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for six months, 1 in 4 U.S. women go back to work within 2 weeks of childbirth.[8]
  • 18% of Washington voters over age 45 provide unpaid care for an adult loved one, and 39% have in the past. The majority of care givers are women, and 60% report feeling stressed trying to balance work and family, according to a 2016 AARP poll.[9] These numbers will increase as our population ages.

Paid family and medical leave programs improve health and reduce inequality:

  • Longer parental leaves improve child and maternal health and increase parental involvement.[10] In the states with paid family and medical leave, new moms are twice as likely to take paid leave as in other states. Paid leave triples for low-income women. Maternity leaves average 22 days longer in these states, new moms and babies are healthier, and fathers take more leave, too.[11]
  • Women with paid family leave are more likely to be employed one year post-birth[12] and report 9% higher wages than women without leave, controlling for demographics and job characteristics.[13] Use of public assistance by both new mothers and fathers drops when they have paid leave.[14]
  • Children, elders, and people of all ages recover faster from serious health conditions and have fewer complications and re-hospitalizations when loved ones are present, receive doctor’s instructions, and can assist with follow up care.[15]

Let’s use our voice and our power to fight for a statewide
paid family and medical leave program in Washington!

Visit www.waworkandfamily.org to learn more.

Notes

[1] As of September 14, 2016, 38 jurisdictions have passed paid sick leave laws, including Seattle, SeaTac, Tacoma, and Spokane. See Family Values @ Work Timeline of Wins, http://familyvaluesatwork.org/media-center/paid-sick-days-wins.

[2] US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey, March 2015, Table 32. Leave benefits: Access, private industry workers, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2015/ownership/private/table32a.pdf.

[3] The Family and Medical Leave Act requires 1,250 hours work in the previous year and a full year with a covered employer to qualify for job-protected leave. 41% estimate from: Gault et al, Paid Parental Leave in the United States: What the Data Tell Us about Access, Usage, and Economic and Health Benefits, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Jan 2014, http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/paid-parental-leave-in-the-united-states-what-the-data-tell-us-about-access-usage-and-economic-and-health-benefits/.

[4] Washington State Board of Health, Health Impact Review of SB 5459, Aug 2015, http://sboh.wa.gov/Portals/7/Doc/HealthImpactReviews/HIR-2015-10-SB5459_092815.pdf; Burtle, A. and Bezruchka, S., Population Health and Paid Parental Leave: What the United States Can Learn from Two Decades of Research. Healthcare 2016, http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/4/2/30.

[5] Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Infant Mortality Rates, 2013, webpage viewed Sept. 14, 2016, https://data.oecd.org/healthstat/infant-mortality-rates.htm.

[6] EOI calculation from statistics located: http://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/VitalStatisticsData/Birth/BirthTablesbyTopic; http://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/VitalStatisticsData/InfantDeath/InfantDeathTablesbyTopic;   http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/health21a-eng.htm.

[7] U.S. Census Bureau, “Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961–2008,” Oct 2011, https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-128.pdf.

[8] In These Times, “The Real War on Families, Aug 18, 2015, http://inthesetimes.com/article/18151/the-real-war-on-families.

[9] 2016 AARP Washington Caregiving Survey: The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/ltc/2016/2016-caregiving-wa-45plus-care-act-rc-ltc.pdf.

[10] Washington State Board of Health, Health Impact Review of SB 5459, Aug 2015, http://sboh.wa.gov/Portals/7/Doc/HealthImpactReviews/HIR-2015-10-SB5459_092815.pdf.

[11] Linda Houser and Thomas P. Vartanian, “Policy Matters: Public Policy, Paid Leave for New Parents, and Economic Security for U.S. Workers,” April 2012, Center for Women and Work, Rutgers, http://cww.rutgers.edu/sites/cww.rutgers.edu/files/documents/working_families/Policy_Matters_Final_4.29.pdf; Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “The Effects of California’s Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers’ Leave-Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 17715, December 2011, http://www.nber.org/papers/w17715.

[12] Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “The Effects of California’s Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers’ Leave-Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 17715, December 2011, http://www.nber.org/papers/w17715.

[13] Heather Boushey, “Family friendly policies: Helping mothers make ends meet,” 2008, Review of Social Economy, https://www.jstor.org/stable/29770449.

[14] Linda Houser and Thomas P. Vartanian, “Policy Matters: Public Policy, Paid Leave for New Parents, and Economic Security for U.S. Workers,” April 2012, Center for Women and Work, Rutgers, http://cww.rutgers.edu/sites/cww.rutgers.edu/files/documents/working_families/Policy_Matters_Final_4.29.pdf;

[15] Washington State Board of Health, Health Impact Review of SB 5459, Aug 2015, http://sboh.wa.gov/Portals/7/Doc/HealthImpactReviews/HIR-2015-10-SB5459_092815.pdf.


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Issue Brief | September 7, 2016 | By Marilyn Watkins, Miranda Vargas

Executive Summary

Summary

Social Security is a longstanding success of our democratic system. It provides financial security and stable incomes to 60 million Americans directly receiving retirement, disability, or survivor benefits.[i] In Washington state, 29% of households depend on Social Security income.[ii]

Social Security is the most common source of income among older adults, and for the majority of senior households it is the largest source of income.[iii] Nationally, in 2014, it prevented 15 million older adults from living in poverty.[iv] Black and Latino seniors – both men and women – and widowed and other unmarried women of all races are especially likely to rely on Social Security for all or nearly all of their income.[v]

Social Security also protects people of all ages. In the U.S., 3.2 million children under age 18 receive benefits directly, typically because a parent has died or become disabled, and an additional 3.2 million children live in households receiving benefits. While the majority of these children are White, Black and Latino children are more likely to benefit from the program. Altogether, Social Security lifts more than 1 million children out of poverty.[vi]

How Does Social Security Work?

Working Americans and their employers each pay 6.2% of wages into Social Security, up to the cap of $118,500 in 2016.[vii] These payroll premiums fund current benefits supplemented by interest from the Trust Fund that has been built up since the 1980s to help cover the retirement of the baby boom generation. The average monthly benefit is $1,182.24.

The Connection to Wage Inequality

Social Security benefits are progressive, meaning that benefits replace a higher percentage of earnings for low wage workers than for high wage workers. But those with higher lifetime incomes still receive more in benefits. The gender and racial wage and opportunity gaps, and women’s greater likelihood of taking time out of the workforce or working a reduced schedule for family care, therefore ultimately affect the size of benefits.

While women of all races and Black and Latino men are more likely to depend on Social Security for all their income, they also typically receive lower benefits than white men. In 2013, for those over age 65 the average benefit was $16,590 for all men, but $12,857 for all women, $14,148 for Latino men, and $10,931 for Latina women.[viii]

Reducing wage inequality would go a long way toward assuring secure retirements for all workers, as well as bolstering Social Security’s finances and long-term sustainability.

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5-solutions-social-security-graph04Looking Ahead: Strengthening Social Security

As successful as Social Security is in providing financial stability for individuals, families, and communities across the nation, we can make it even better and assure that it continues to protect American workers for generations to come. In this election year, it is crucial to understand candidates’ stances on Social Security and the impacts of their proposals.[ix] Some of the best ideas to strengthen Social Security include:

  • Increase Benefits Overall

Although Social Security kept 21.4 million Americans out poverty in 2014,[x] benefits can be expanded to better protect the financial and retirement security of the much larger number of people who are just scraping by, particularly older women and people of color.[xi] The simplest way to do that is to adjust the benefit formula to raise benefits for those who have spent their careers in low wage occupations – such as childcare, restaurant service, or home health care.

  • Protect the Very Elderly

Living to extreme old age and outliving or not having a spouse greatly increase the risk of poverty. “Bump-ups” in benefits for seniors living past a certain age, and/or increasing benefits for elderly widows and widowers, would reduce financial insecurity among the most vulnerable.

  • Reinstate Coverage for College Students

Before 1981, children of retired, deceased, or disabled workers continued receiving benefits through age 22 if they attended college. Now benefits end once a young person turns 18 and finishes high school. Reinstating college benefits could help children and their families achieve their dreams, as well as reduce socioeconomic barriers to education and lifetime opportunities.[xii]

  • Protect Caregivers and Others with Time Out of the Workforce

Caring for children or aging family members can cause a lot of people, especially women, to reduce their hours or stop working altogether, greatly impacting their retirement benefits. Reducing the number of years’ earnings used to calculate retirement benefits from 35 to 30 or 28 would be the simplest way to eliminate the caregiving penalty, as well as benefit those who had reduced access to employment because of economic or other circumstances.

  • Scrap the Cap

Social Security’s Trustees and actuaries annually project the program’s financing 75 years into the future. In 2016, they predicted the system could pay full scheduled benefits through 2034, then could cover 79% of expected benefits.[xiii] With the current contributions cap of $118,500, the majority of workers pay on their entire earnings all year, while those with the highest salaries contribute only for part of the year. Eliminating the cap immediately would tax all workers equally, help finance benefit expansion, and secure the program for future generations.

Notes

[i]     U.S. Social Security Administration, Number of beneficiaries receiving benefits on December 31, 1970-2015, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/OASDIbenies.html.

[ii]     U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2015, Selected Economic Characteristics for Washington, 1-year estimates.

[iii]    U.S. Social Security Administration, Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2014, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/income_pop55/.

[iv]    The Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, The Elder Economic Security Initiative: The Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Washington, 2011, http://www.wowonline.org/documents/WashingtonElderIndexReport.pdf.

[v]     U.S. Social Security Administration, Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2014, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/income_pop55/.

[vi]    Center for Global Policy Solutions, Overlooked But Not Forgotten: Social Security Lifts Millions More Children Out Of Poverty, July 2016, http://globalpolicysolutions.org/report/overlooked-not-forgotten-social-security-lifts-millions-children-poverty/.

[vii]   Edwards KA, Turner A, and Hertel-Fernandez A, Economic Policy Institute, A Young Person’s Guide to Social Security, 2016, http://www.epi.org/files/2016/young_person%27s_guide_to_social_security_3rd_edition_optimized.pdf.

[viii]   U.S. Social Security Administration, “Social Security is Important to Women,” and “Hispanics and Social Security,” viewed August 4, 2016, https://www.ssa.gov/people/.

[ix]    Sample proposals include: Social Security Works’ All Generations Plan viewed at http://www.socialsecurityworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Social-Security-Works-All-Generations-Plan.pdf, and Senator Brian Shatz’s (D-HI) Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act viewed at:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1940?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22schatz%22%5D%7D
https://retiredamericans.org/safeguarding-american-families-and-expanding-social-security-act/

[x]     DeNavas-Walt C and Proctor BD, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014, 2015, https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p60-252.pdf.

[xi]    Hartmann H, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Enhancing Social Security for Women and other Vulnerable Americans: What the Experts Say, 2014, http://iwpr.org/publications/pubs/enhancing-social-security-for-women-and-other-vulnerable-americans-what-the-experts-say.

[xii]   Edwards KA, Turner A, and Hertel-Fernandez A, Economic Policy Institute, A Young Person’s Guide to Social Security, 2016, http://www.epi.org/files/2016/young_person%27s_guide_to_social_security_3rd_edition_optimized.pdf.

[xiii]   U.S. Social Security Administration, 2016 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees, https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TR/2016/tr2016.pdf.


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Issue Brief | August 25, 2016 | By John Burbank

Executive Summary

King County residents, especially those with U.S. citizenship, have benefitted greatly from the expansion of health coverage via the Affordable Care Act. Between April 2014 and March 2016, the number of residents covered through Apple Health (Medicaid) and the Qualified Health Plans offered through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange grew by 55%, from 256,000 to 396,000.[i] As a result, one out of five King County residents now has health insurance through Apple Health or Qualified Health Plans.[ii]

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These expansions have driven a noteworthy decrease in the number of uninsured residents in King County. Data from the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) and Public Health – Seattle & King County shows a systemic decline in the number of uninsured across the board: by ethnicity, age, employment status, citizenship and income level between 2013 and 2014[iii] (prior to the 140,000 person increase in health coverage through the Health Benefit Exchange in 2016.)

Between 2013 and 2014, King County realized a 38% proportional decrease in the number of uninsured, as the number of people without health insurance decreased by 82,000. Compared to a 35% drop in the uninsured across the state, and a 20% drop in the uninsured nationally, this makes King County a high performer relative to other jurisdictions.[iv]

Of particular note: disproportionate drops in the rate of uninsured occurred among African Americans, Asian Americans, people with incomes below 138% of federal poverty level, the unemployed, and naturalized citizens. These numbers indicate the success of the Affordable Care Act across all population cohorts, while highlighting those cohorts which still disproportionately lack health coverage.

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Who Doesn’t Have Coverage in King County

In spite of the advances in coverage made possible through the Affordable Care Act, 139,000 residents of King County still did not have health insurance as of 2014.[v] These individuals are particularly concentrated among adults not in the labor force (35,546), non-citizens, those who with incomes below the median income (112,040), Hispanics (35,785), and people between the ages of 25 and 45 (75,233). These are overlapping cohorts. For example, thousands of Hispanics reside and work in Washington state are both poor and do not yet have citizenship status.

It is important to note that since 2014, over 140,000 additional people have gained health coverage through Apple Health or the Health Benefit Exchange (an additional 60% on top of 2014’s totals). At the same time, King County’s overall population has grown by 89,000 people. Without knowing the numbers of employees who have been switched from employer health coverage to coverage through the Health Benefit Exchange, we can only imprecisely estimate the number of residents who remain uninsured in King County. Our estimate is that of the 2.1 million residents of King County, fewer than 80,000 people, or less than 4% of the County’s population, lack health coverage.

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Price Walls and Affordability

A decrease in the number of uninsured does not mean the Affordable Care Act has “solved” problems with the nation’s health insurance coverage. Current coverage rates still don’t match the levels found in other developed countries around the world. And even King County residents who have health insurance remain vulnerable to losing coverage or being financially unable to meet their “cost-share” for health coverage.

The price wall people encounter when their income exceeds 138% of federal poverty level is another significant problem. With an annual income of $16,284 or less, an adult is covered by Apple Health, with minimal, if any, cost to the individual.[vi] But if that same person gets a wage increase and thereby earns $20,650 (175% of federal poverty level), the combined premium and out-of-pocket costs can exceed $2,300 – more than 12% of their income – even after receiving federal subsidies. For a person earning $23,600 (200% of federal poverty level), the combined premium and out-of-pocket costs can exceed $2,800.[vii]

Health Coverage in King County - graphic16

The Price Wall Problem

Imagine a hypothetical community college student named Brenda, who is working 32 hours a week at the minimum wage in Burien. At $9.47/hour, her income is $14,773 and she qualifies for Apple Health (i.e. no-cost health insurance.) The following year, she takes a job in Seattle that pays $12.50/hour. Her income goes up to $20,800, a bit above 175% of federal poverty level.

Brenda now no longer qualifies for Apple Health, and so moves into the commercial health benefit exchange. While premiums and out-of-pocket costs are subsidized by the federal government, they can still be sizeable. If she gets ill and needs care, she can lose 40% of the increase in her wages – over $2,300 – to payments for her health insurance coverage. If her income increases to $29,500, she could pay as much as $6,152 for health care in premiums and out-of-pockets costs – more than 20% of her total income.

Solutions for Advancing Health Coverage in King County

King County can improve health insurance coverage by paying particular attention to those populations with continued high rates of uninsurance and underinsurance – that is, individuals below 138% of federal poverty level (who qualify for Apple Health but may have difficulty accessing it), and those between 138% and 199% of federal poverty level.

For people in the former category, that corresponds to: less than $16,284 for a single person; less than $22,107 for a two-person family; less than $27,820 for a three-person family; less than $33,534 for a four-person family; and less than $39,247 for a five-person family. The county should make every effort to expedite coverage for this population through Apple Health, while recognizing that many residents and workers at this income level will still not be able to gain coverage due to citizenship status.

For those with incomes between 138% and 300% of federal poverty level, there is not a straightforward solution regarding affordability – particularly for premiums and out-of-pocket costs that challenge family budgets. One avenue is for the county to explore re-instituting Washington state’s Basic Health Plan at the county level, using the same parameters for cost-sharing that were in place when the people passed Initiative 773 in 2001 to expand Basic Health coverage.

The county could also work with the state and federal government to increase the threshold for coverage under Apple Health from 138% to 150% of federal poverty level. If this were to happen, about 13,000 people currently in the commercial exchange could move into Apple Health.[viii] Another possibility is for the county to work with the state in developing a federal Basic Health option, as provided by the Affordable Care Act’s section 1331.

The county could also continue to dedicate and increase resources to providing care for those excluded from coverage under the Affordable Care Act, particularly recent immigrants. King County has already laid out an agenda for action, outlined in the July 2015 report, “Access to Health Care After the Affordable Care Act”[ix] and the October 2015 report, “Affordable Care Act Enrollment in King County: Early General Population Impacts.”[x]

King County, Washington state, and the United States have embarked upon systemic and significant advances toward achieving health coverage for all. While progress has been made, there is much more to do. This work will take innovative and creative policy development, increased public funding, and, most importantly, the political will to meet the health needs of and establish health security for all residents.

Notes:

[i]     Washington Health Benefit Exchange Enrollment Reports: http://www.wahbexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/HBE_EN_140422_April_Enrollment_Report.pdf, http://www.wahbexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/HBE_EN_160607_March_Enrollment_Report.pdf

[ii]     Population grew in King County from 1,981,900 to 2,052,800 between 2013 and 2015, an increase of 70,900, or 3.58%. See http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/asr/default.asp Washington state Office of Financial Management, Population, Estimates of April 1st population, county data tables.

[iii]    The OFM data is for the total population (that is, including Medicare recipients 65 and older, and children under 18 years old, whose coverage is very high, thanks in large part to Apple Health. The King County data focuses on the 18-64 age population. Further, OFM adjusted data to take in account an undercount of Apple Health enrollment in the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS). These differing methodologies and populations account for the difference in the rates of uninsured.

[iv]    Affordable Care Act Enrollment in King County, presentation by Public Health – Seattle & King County, http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/%7e/media/health/publichealth/documents/data/affordable-care-act-enrollment-king-county.ashx, p. 10 and 11.

[v]     American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates on the American FactFinder; Wei Yen, OFM Forecasting and Research Division

[vi]    Washington State Health Care Authority: Apple Health Federal Poverty Level (FPL) Chart – Find out if you’re eligible http://www.hca.wa.gov/medicaid/publications/Documents/19_031.pdf

[vii]    Washington Health Plan Finder: https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/HBEWeb/Annon_ShowIndividualFamilyPlans

[viii]   Washington Health Benefit Exchange, March 2015, Health Coverage Enrollment Report, page 8: http://wahbexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/991427407310_2015_Enrollment_Report_2_032615.pdf

[ix]    Access to Health Care After the Affordable Care Act, presentation by Public Health – Seattle & King County, http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/%7e/media/health/publichealth/documents/data/Access-Health-Care-After-ACA.ashx

[x]     http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/%7e/media/health/publichealth/documents/data/affordable-care-act-enrollment-king-county.ashx


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Health Care

Report | July 15, 2016

Executive Summary

The Economic Opportunity Institute’s mission is to build an economy that works for everyone by advancing public policies that promote educational opportunity, good jobs, healthy families and workplaces, and a dignified retirement for all.

Highlights

Paid Sick Days

We began 2015 celebrating a victory: Tacoma passed the first paid sick days ordinance of the year in the nation, assuring 40,000 workers the right to earn sick and safe leave. With the Healthy Tacoma Coalition, EOI galvanized community support, provided key policy expertise, and contributed strategic communications during the three year campaign.

Just 12 months later, Spokane passed the first paid sick days law of 2016, also with EOI strategic support. Through the last months of 2015, EOI provided critical data and policy analysis in developing the language for Raise Up Washington (I-1433), filed in January 2016. If passed by voters this fall, I-1433 will raise the minimum wage to $13.50 statewide and give Washington the strongest statewide paid sick and safe leave policy in the country.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

EOI was instrumental in helping Washington State win a U.S. Department of Labor research grant in September 2015. Data from the study will help build momentum for passage of statewide Family and Medical Leave Insurance – we hope in 2017! Our years of local and national coalition work, creating partnerships with policymakers, and communications initiatives have contributed to a real cultural change.

In 2015, local governments around the country, including Seattle and King County, and large corporations have announced new family leave benefits for their employees. But only a truly universal system of Family and Medical Leave Insurance that allows everybody to nurture a new child, care for an aging parent, or recover from a serious illness will provide the support families need while attacking the roots of gender, racial, and economic disparities.

Economic Mobility

EOI’s latest report on economic mobility, Uneven Ground: How Race and Origin Impact Economic Opportunity in Washington, highlights the disadvantages facing people of color and immigrant families here in Washington and across the nation. Children of color and those in immigrant families are more likely than white or native-born children to live in poverty, face academic challenges in school, and be suspended or expelled.

Our report concludes: “Unless we reject policies that – intentionally or not – hamper opportunity for families of color and immigrant families while lifting up White and native-born families, lines of class, race, and ethnicity will harden and continue to divide us generation after generation.”

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Financial Summary*

2015 expense snapshot

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2015 revenue snapshot

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*Preliminary figures, subject to CPA review; represented on an accrual basis for fiscal year 1/1/15 to 12/31/15.

annual-report-staff-photoThank You!

“Plain and simple: you power the work of EOI. Your support and engagement – as a donor and an ally – makes our research, education, and advocacy for a more just economy possible. From paid sick days to access to higher education, revenue reform to retirement security, you’re helping advance progressive public policies that help build an economy that works – for everyone. On behalf of all of us, thank you for your support.” ~John Burbank, Executive Director, and Marilyn Watkins, Policy Director

3 Ways You Can Make An Impact

You can help build an economy that works for everyone.

  • Support EOI with a donation, one time or monthly. Ask your employer if they’ll match your gift – many do! Visit eoionline.org/donate.
  • Stay informed and share policy news with your friends– visit eoionline.org/news to get our newsletter, like us on Facebook at www.fb.me/eoionline, or follow us on Twitter at @eoionline.
  • Ask your company or organization to sponsor EOI’s annual event – it’s a win-win for both! Email Sam Hatzenbeler, Development Manager, for details at sam@eoionline.org.

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Issue Brief | May 6, 2016 | By Marilyn Watkins

Executive Summary

Establishing universal paid family and medical leave in the United States is critical to restoring economic security for working families and overcoming the entrenched inequities of race, gender, and class that undermine our economy and squash opportunity for far too many.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly confirms the importance of paid parental leave to the health and well-being of young children. With our population aging, more workers have responsibilities for caring for older family members and are themselves more at risk of serious illness or injury that may also require a lengthy time away from work.

Currently in the United States, the highest income employees often have generous employer-provided paid leave benefits that allow them to nurture a new child, care for a parent with a health crisis, and fully recover from their own serious health conditions. Middle and lower income workers, on the other hand, have limited or no access to paid leave, forcing them to choose between their family’s health or economic security.

As of 2014, the United States and Papua New Guinea were the only two out of 185 countries and territories in the world that did not guarantee paid maternity leave. Most developed economies also provide paid paternity leave along with guaranteed paid sick leave and vacation time.[1]

Fortunately, programs in California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island provide highly successful models of family and disability leave programs that other states can replicate. Washington and other states can learn from the experience in these states to craft their own programs in ways that assure that all workers have access, regardless of income or occupation, and that businesses of all sizes can support their workers and communities and continue to thrive.

Adopting statewide paid family and medical leave programs to assure all workers access to paid leave is a crucial step toward overcoming health disparities and inequality in the U.S., and the key to eventual Congressional action to make universal and portable family and medical leave accessible to all U.S. workers.[2]

Documented Benefits of Paid Family and Medical Leave

Boosts infant and parent health

Paid parental leave has lasting positive impacts on the child’s and parents’ physical and emotional health and family economic security. Research documents that a person’s life-long health is substantially determined by the age of two.[3] Adverse effects early in life, including the family stress induced by bouts of economic insecurity and poverty, can have lasting detrimental effects on emotional and physical health, and on social and economic outcomes.

Focusing public policy supports early in life is far less costly and more effective than trying to fix preventable problems later in life. Longer maternity leaves are associated with reduced infant mortality and better infant health.[4] Paid leave allows more parents to stay home for longer periods with their new child, increasing the likelihood the child will receive immunizations and other health care. Mothers are more likely to begin and continue breastfeeding, boosting the child’s immune system, improving cognitive development, and reducing the chances of later allergies, diabetes, and obesity.[5] The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be fed breast milk exclusively for about the first six months of life.[6]

Women also benefit from breastfeeding, by reducing their chance of breast cancer and facilitating a return to pre-pregnancy weight. Longer maternity leaves are also associated with decreased rates of postpartum depression in new mothers. Both parents and children gain from reduced family stress, reduced rates of domestic violence, and strengthened bonding between parents and the child.[7]

Fathers who have the opportunity to fully bond with their infants are more likely to remain involved in their child’s life for the long term, with positive consequences for the child’s mental health and achievement. Men who take longer leaves also continue to spend more time on housework and childcare.[8]

Impacts on children are long lasting. A Canadian study found that children who as infants had at least one parent taking parental leave scored higher on measures of physical health, social competence, and communication when they reached kindergarten than those whose parents had not taken leave. The highest scores were for children with a parent who had taken between six and twelve months of leave.[9]

Promotes family economic security and equity

Family economic outcomes are better when new parents receive paid leaves. Women with paid maternity leave are more likely to return to work in the year following a birth and to have higher wages over time. Use of TANF and SNAP or food stamps by both new mothers and fathers also drop when they have paid leave.[10] Studies have also found positive associations with men taking longer paternity leaves and their partners’ workforce attachment.[11] Stronger family finances boost a child’s chances long term, increasing the likelihood that they will do well in school and opening doors of opportunity.

Protects workers’ health

Paid medical leave helps cushion the economic impact when people have an accident that causes serious injury or encounter a serious health condition (at any age) that interferes with their ability to work. An aging workforce puts more people at risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. The majority of claims in both California’s and New Jersey’s family leave and temporary disability insurance systems are for the worker’s own health.[12]

Supports elder and family care

Paid family leaves also support working adults who have care responsibilities for spouses, siblings, grandparents, and other family members, along with parents. A recent study by the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving found that 43.5 million adults in the U.S. (18.3%) provide unpaid care for another person, including 14% who care for someone over age 50. About half are caring for a parent or parent-in-law, and 35% for another family member. The majority of unpaid caregivers are women, and six in ten are also employed.[13]

Providing elder care while holding a job and sometimes also having young children at home can be stressful, cause health problems for the caregiver, and result in lost income and career opportunities.[14] In the Caregiving survey, 22% reported that caregiving caused their health to get worse and 61% that it had impacted their jobs.[15] The Census Bureau projects that the percentage of people over age 80 in the U.S. will double over the next 25 years.[16]

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Lack of Access Promotes Inequality

Currently, the benefits associated with lengthy paid parental leaves in the U.S. are available mostly to babies lucky enough to be born in one of the handful of states with a disability insurance/family leave program, or whose parents are highly paid professionals with especially generous employers. Extended time off work with pay to go through treatment and fully recover from serious illness or injury, or care for a family member, is also not available to most workers.

In 2015, only 12% of U.S. private sector workers had a paid family leave benefit. Some workers are able to cobble together employer-provided sick leave, vacation, and/or temporary disability insurance during FMLA-covered leaves (see p. 5). But 39% of private sector workers get no paid sick leave and 24% no vacation. Access is highly skewed by income – people with the highest 10% of wages are nearly four times more likely than those in the bottom 10% to have sick leave, and more than eight times more likely to have paid family leave.[17]

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The growing paid sick days movement has significantly expanded access to sick leave in about 30 cities and 5 states (as of this writing). But even workers with paid leave have a hard time saving up enough for adequate parental leave or to cope with health crises such as a cancer diagnosis or serious accident. U.S. private sector workers with paid sick leave typically only accrue six days per year, even after five years on the job.[18] Those with vacation typically get ten days after one year and 15 after five years in larger companies, but fewer days in firms with fewer than 100 employees.[19]

A U.S. Census Bureau analysis of maternity leave arrangements for first-time mothers found that while just over half of U.S. women who worked during pregnancy received some pay during maternity leave, only about one-fourth were paid for their entire leave. More than a quarter of women either quit or were let go from their jobs. Women with a B.A. degree or higher were more than twice as likely as women with only a high school education to receive paid maternity leaves (66.3% to 31.6%), and white women were slightly more likely than women of color.[20]

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Despite the recommendation of health professionals to exclusively breastfeed for six months, and the high cost of infant childcare, the Census Bureau found 59% of women were back at work within three months of childbirth.[21] An analysis conducted for In These Times found one in four U.S. women return to work within two weeks of giving birth.[22]

Lack of paid parental leave seriously undermines family economic security. Women who have had a baby in the past twelve months are considerably more likely to be poor or low income than those who have not had a baby. In Washington, more than one in three married women and two-thirds of unmarried women who gave birth in the past year have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level. Altogether 19.3% of Washington children under the age of 5 live in poverty.[23]

Poverty has profound lasting negative effects on young children’s emotional and physical health, including interfering with brain growth and development.[24] But experience with the Earned Income Tax Credit and other programs demonstrate that policy changes which raise family incomes can result in meaningful improvements in child development.[25]

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Policy Successes and the Path Forward

Federal Family and Medical Leave Act

Since 1993, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has guaranteed up to twelve weeks job-protected leave for workers with: a serious health condition; a newborn or newly placed adopted or foster child; or a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent.[26] Millions of people have benefitted. However, the FMLA has major gaps: employers are not required to provide pay, only employers with 50 or more employees must comply, and workers are only eligible if they have been with their current employer at least a full year and worked at least 1,250 hours in the past year. With these restrictions, more than four in ten workers are not covered. Many who in theory have access to leave cannot afford to take it without pay.[27]

State Disability and Family Leave Insurance Programs

Several states have established programs to assure workers receive wage replacement during prolonged leaves to care for a new child or serious health concern. In the 1940s, Rhode Island, California, New Jersey, and New York approved temporary disability insurance (TDI) programs that covered most workers. Hawaii followed in 1969.[28]

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Originally, these plans excluded pregnancy and childbirth-related disabilities, but that changed with passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. Since then, women in these states with healthy pregnancies and normal deliveries have typically been able to collect disability benefits starting two weeks prior to their due date until six weeks after childbirth, with longer leaves allowed when medically necessary.

In 2002, California became the first state to add family leave to the system. Both parents can take six weeks of bonding leave for a newborn or newly adopted child – for the birth mother, in addition to her disability leave. Leave is also available to care for family members with serious health conditions. New Jersey approved a similar benefit in 2008 and Rhode Island in 2013.[29] New York’s Assembly passed twelve weeks of family leave in 2016.[30]

Each system varies somewhat in design. California covers up to 52 weeks of disability leave and the other four states cover up to 26 weeks. New Jersey’s program provides two-thirds of usual pay. California provided 55% of wages for many years, but legislation passed in 2016 that will increase benefits beginning in 2018 to 70% for workers with incomes below $20,000 and 60% for those with higher incomes.[31] New York’s 2016 law also boosted previous benefit levels for the new family leave program.

In California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, the program is primarily operated as social insurance, with the state holding funds in trust and paying benefits, while New York and Hawaii require employers to provide benefits that meet state standards, either on their own or through private insurance. Payroll premiums in California and Rhode Island are paid by employees, but employers are required to contribute at least a portion in New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii.[32]

paid family and medical leave brief may 16 photo1Washington State

During the 1980s, Washington legislators passed pioneering family leave policy that helped pave the way for Congressional action on the FMLA. The “chicken pox law”, passed in 1988, assured that workers with paid sick leave could use it to care for a sick child. The following year, House Bill 1581 provided job-protected, unpaid leave to parents to care for a newborn, newly adopted, or terminally ill child.[33]

Following passage of the federal FMLA, advocates and policymakers across the country continued pushing for universal paid family leave. With the encouragement of the Clinton administration, Washington and a number of other states introduced “Baby UI” bills during the late 1990s that would have extended unemployment insurance to new parents. Those bills faced staunch opposition from business lobbying groups, and none passed. Early in the Bush administration, the U.S. Department of Labor changed federal rules to shut down that possibility.

The Washington Family Leave Coalition – women’s, labor, senior, faith, and other community groups coordinated by the Economic Opportunity Institute – formulated a new plan for family and medical leave insurance modeled on the state TDI programs. That proposal was first introduced in Washington’s legislature in 2001.[34]

The recession that hit later that year was particularly severe in the Pacific Northwest, triggering state budget cuts in 2002 and 2003. Faced with a climate of austerity that made passage of a new program unlikely, the coalition put paid family leave on hold and crafted the Family Care Act for introduction in the 2002 legislature. The bill expanded the 1988 “chicken pox” law to allow workers to use any employer-provided paid leave to care for ill spouses, parents, parents-in-law, and grandparents, as well as sick children. The 2002 bill passed unanimously in the House and with only four no votes in the Senate.[35]

Knowing the Family Care Act would not help workers whose employers did not already offer paid leave, the following year the coalition and policymakers developed and introduced a bill to establish a minimum standard of employer-provided paid leave for all workers, helping launch the paid sick days movement.[36]

In 2005, legislative champions Senator Karen Keiser and Representative Mary Lou Dickerson reintroduced family and medical leave insurance with coalition backing. Under the strong leadership of Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of Spokane, that bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, but stalled in the House.[37]

Conditions finally seemed ripe to pass family and medical leave insurance in 2007. The economy was strong and Democrats, who generally favored the concept, had majorities in both chambers along with the Governor’s seat. The reintroduced paid family leave law again sailed through the Senate with bipartisan support, including funding for benefits from payroll premiums. However, in the face of strong opposition from corporate lobbyists, the House balked. It passed a stripped down bill that covered only parental leave – and provided no funding.[38]

The coalition continued to encourage legislators to expand the 2007 law to a full program that would cover both family and disability leave with dedicated funding. In 2008, the state legislature approved a General Fund appropriation for start-up activities, in anticipation of a bill for a permanent funding in 2009 that would allow the program to start that fall. But the Great Recession, which began in late 2008, devastated Washington’s budget for several years, making expansion and funding of family leave politically unfeasible. Instead, the Legislature postponed implementation indefinitely.

The (now renamed) Washington Work and Family Coalition turned attention back to the issue of sick leave.  Over the next several years, the Coalition helped seed and support local coalitions which won paid sick days victories in Seattle (2011),[39] Tacoma (2015),[40] and Spokane (2016).[41] Statewide paid sick and safe leave bills passed the Washington House in 2014 and 2015, but died in the Republican-controlled Senate.[42]

paid family and medical leave brief may 16 photo2Leading up to the 2013 legislative session, the coalition updated and expanded its family and medical leave insurance proposal to cover twelve weeks of family leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member and up to twelve weeks of disability leave. Workers on leave would receive two-thirds of their usual pay up to $1,000 per week, funded through payroll premiums of 0.4% split equally between employees and employers, with the typical worker paying less than $2.00 per week.

Bills were introduced in both 2013 and 2015 and passed the House Labor Committee in both years .[43] Despite support from many small business owners, paid family leave bills have been opposed by corporate lobby groups, including the Association of Washington Business, Washington Food Industry Association, and Independent Business Association, and as a result faced a hostile political climate in the state Senate, which has been controlled by Republicans since 2013.[44]

Action Around the Country

The need for policy change on paid leave is increasingly in the national spotlight. Nearly 30 cities and five states have now passed paid sick days laws with high levels of public support.[45]

Over the past two years, a growing number of both private and public employers have announced new or expanded paid parental leave offerings for their own employees, including Amazon, Microsoft, and other tech giants,[46] and both the City of Seattle and King County, Washington.[47] In the same week in April 2016, California raised benefits for its state family leave and TDI program, and New York adopted statewide paid family leave. [48] Legislators in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia are considering establishing entirely new family and disability leave insurance programs in 2016.

Polling shows both paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance are wildly popular with voters.[49] Two recent polls in Connecticut by AARP and Connecticut Working Families found 83% and 75% of voters, respectively, supported establishing a family and medical leave insurance program.[50] President Obama and Secretary of Labor Perez have urged more cities and states to act and Democratic presidential candidates have announced support for federal passage of both paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.

Despite all this activity, the U.S. remains a long way from universal paid family leave. While many individual business owners support paid leave legislation, most business lobby associations at the local, state, and federal levels oppose new labor standards and and actively campaign against them.[51] The path to eventual Congressional victory will be long and will require additional states to adopt programs and provide even more proof that family-friendly policies are fully compatible with a strong economy and strong businesses.

Proven Results in TDI/Paid Family Leave States

Positive Outcomes for Workers

Recent studies have found that women in states with disability or family leave insurance were twice as likely to take paid leave after having a baby than women in other states. They also took leaves that were on average 22 days longer. Among women with incomes below 200% of the poverty level, use of paid leave tripled in states with disability or family leave insurance. After family leave was added to disability insurance in California in 2004, average maternity leaves increased from 1 week to 7 weeks for African American mothers, and from 4 to 7 weeks for white mothers. Fathers were more than twice as likely to take leave for a new child.[52]

A qualitative study of low-income parents in New Jersey found that those who used the state family leave insurance program were much more likely to return to their jobs than those who did not. Mothers who used the program were much more likely to be working at the time of the study, and on average breastfed for one month longer, than those who did not use paid family leave.[53]

paid family and medical leave brief may 16 photo3Business Successes

The five states with established universal TDI systems – California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island – together are home to 21% of all jobs in the United States.[54] These states’ economies have grown, evolved, and diversified over time along with the rest of the country. Over the past 14 years, all but Hawaii have acted to establish universal paid family leave alongside disability insurance. California has expanded its original family leave program twice more, adding siblings, grandparents and other family members to those covered, and increasing benefit levels for both family and disability leave.

For employers, these universal social insurance programs have the advantages of minimal administration and low and predictable premium costs. Workers notify employers about their leaves, but the state, or in some cases a third party, is responsible for verifying that a claim is valid and administering benefits.[55] Employers do not have to pay workers while on leave, so can use those funds to pay replacement workers – although some employers voluntarily coordinate employer-provided paid leave benefits so that workers receive full pay.[56]

In addition to the social and health benefits of workers having access to family and medical leave benefits, businesses can benefit from lower turnover, higher morale and productivity, and reduced health care spending. Greater family economic security also translates into more discretionary income and consumer spending. Women with paid maternity leave are less likely to quit their jobs following childbirth and to earn more over time,[57] and cities and states that have adopted paid sick leave standards have maintained strong and competitive economies.[58]

The majority of employers themselves have consistently reported no or little impact from public policy changes that promote family-friendly workplaces. A major 2012 U.S. Department of Labor survey on FMLA and leave-taking behavior found that 37% of FMLA-covered worksites reported positive impacts on employee turnover, absenteeism, productivity, morale, or business profitability, while only 8% reported negative impacts. Fewer than 2% of employers reported misuse of FMLA.[59]

Several years following implementation of California’s paid family leave program, a survey of a random sample of firms found that for the vast majority, the program had no or minimal impact. Only 13% reported increased costs, primarily from hiring replacement workers for people on leave, while 9% reported reduced costs from lower turnover.[60] In-depth interviews with 18 New Jersey firm managers who had had at least one employee take advantage of that state’s paid family leave program similarly found that the majority perceived no impact on their operations. Two reported increased profitability as a result, while two others reported decreased profitability. The most commonly cited impact was in paperwork, with two of 18 reporting increases and an additional six noting minimal increases.[61]

Just before and one year after implementing paid family leave, a survey comparing small (10-100 employees) firms in Rhode Island to similar companies in neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts (which did not implement programs), found no evidence of significant impact – either positive or negative – from the program. Moreover, 61% of Rhode Island firms surveyed supported the program, with only 24% opposed.[62]

Lessons for New State Programs

Business Education and Outreach

Multiple studies have documented that over time, businesses have adapted to the FMLA, new paid family leave programs, and new paid sick days standards and have little trouble implementing policies. Nevertheless, there can be initial confusion and some hassle in adjusting existing policies and practices to new standards.

The Employers Association of New Jersey (EANJ), which describes itself as “advancing the principles of individual freedom in labor relations,”[63] conducted a number of seminars around their state for small businesses following adoption of New Jersey’s paid family leave program in 2008. EANJ reported that misinformation spread by opponents of the policy during attempts to defeat it legislatively, and a lack of clear and consistent information from the state, had left many business owners confused about how the program was structured, what their role was, and whether their employees were covered by the policy.[64]

A University of Washington study of the impacts of Seattle’s paid sick and safe leave ordinance found that some businesses experienced initial confusion about requirements and hassle in adjusting their internal systems, but after the first few months, had made the adjustments and found the overall impact less than they anticipated.[65] That initial confusion was true even though the City mailed information to all licensed businesses, conducted workshops in neighborhood business districts across the city prior to implementation, posted extensive information on its website, and offered one-on-one technical assistance. But the UW study also found that many businesses that thought they were in full compliance actually were not, and that many workers had no knowledge of their rights to sick leave.

Worker Education and Outreach

Lack of knowledge about paid leave programs and policies has been a common theme, especially among the most vulnerable workers. A 2014 statewide poll in California, ten years after that state implemented paid family leave, found that only 36% of state voters were aware of the program. Low income and Hispanic voters were least likely to know about it.[66]

Studies in New Jersey have also shown a lack of knowledge about that state’s paid family leave program. One concluded that neither the state nor employers were doing enough to get the word out to employees.[67] A poll of New Jersey residents three years after paid family leave was implemented there found six in ten residents had not heard about the program.[68] A qualitative study of low-income parents in New Jersey also found that many had not used the program simply because they were unaware of it. Others felt intimidated to approach their employers or assumed they were not eligible because their employers did not provide them with information about it.[69]

The New Jersey study of low-income parents found that among those who had used the paid family leave program, some found the application process difficult or experienced delays in getting benefits. Many women expressed a desire for longer than the six weeks of leave afforded by New Jersey’s program. Especially among men, lack of job security for those not covered by FMLA and not receiving full wage replacement were additional barriers to use.[70]

Maximizing Positive Outcomes

Experience from existing state programs suggests that policy details and implementation strategies can be crafted to maximize the positive impacts of family and medical leave insurance on health and family economic security.

Policy considerations include:

  • ­Leaves need to be long enough to meet common basic health needs of workers, infants, and family members.
  • ­Wage replacement rates need to be structured so that low- and moderate-income workers can afford to take time off, along with higher income.
  • ­Providing job security to workers beyond FMLA will also enhance the ability of economically vulnerable workers to take leaves.

Implementation considerations:

  • ­Educational materials to employers must be clear and provided through a variety of methods. Employers need to understand what they must do to comply, with minimal confusion and paperwork. Most workers will find out about the program through their employers, so employers must know when an employee is likely to be eligible for benefits and where to direct the employee to apply.
  • ­Outreach to workers must also be multipronged and continuous, including through health providers and community organizations, particularly those who serve lower income and other vulnerable workers who are least likely to otherwise know about benefits available to them.
  • ­The application process must be simple, with help available in multiple languages and culturally appropriate ways.

Conclusion

The evidence is consistent and compelling: establishing family and medical leave insurance for all workers will reduce health disparities, dramatically improve outcomes for young children, enhance the quality of life of seniors, boost the lifetime earnings of women, and reduce the high social and public costs associated with poverty and inequality in the United States. We have proven policy tools to enact universal, portable, low cost systems at the state and federal levels now. Voters of all parties support adoption of these policies. It is time for Washington and other states to move forward.


Notes

[1]     International Labour Organization, “Maternity and Paternity at Work: Law and practice across the world,” 2014, http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_242617.pdf.

[2]     An analysis by the Washington State Board of Health of the family and medical leave insurance program proposed to the legislature in 2015 found strong evidence that its adoption would decrease health disparities for low income workers and families of color. Washington State Board of Health, “Health Impact Review of SB5459: Implementing Family and Medical leave Insurance,” Aug 31, 2015, http://sboh.wa.gov/Portals/7/Doc/HealthImpactReviews/HIR-2015-10-SB5459_092815.pdf.

[3]     Stephen Bezruchka, “Early Life or Early Death,” International Journal of Child, Youth, and Family Studies, 2015 (2), https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/ijcyfs/article/view/13499.

[4]     Jody Heymann, Amy Raub, Alison Earle, “Creating and Using New Data Sources to Analyze the Relationship Between Social Policy and Global Health: The Case of Maternal Leave,” Public Health Rep. 2011; 126(Suppl 3): 127–134, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150137/; McGill University. “Longer maternity leave linked to better infant health: Study of low- and middle-income countries shows paid maternity leave policies could help prevent infant deaths.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160330123502.htm.

[5]     Washington State Board of Health, “Health Impact Review of SB5459: Implementing Family and Medical leave Insurance,” Aug 31, 2015, http://sboh.wa.gov/Portals/7/Doc/HealthImpactReviews/HIR-2015-10-SB5459_092815.pdf.

[6]     American Academy of Pediatrics, Breastfeeding Initiative, FAQs webpage viewed Apr 19, 2016, https://www2.aap.org/breastfeeding/faqsBreastfeeding.html.

[7]     Washington State Board of Health, “Health Impact Review of SB5459: Implementing Family and Medical leave Insurance,” Aug 31, 2015, http://sboh.wa.gov/Portals/7/Doc/HealthImpactReviews/HIR-2015-10-SB5459_092815.pdf.

[8]     U.S. Department of Labor, “Paternity Leave: Why Parental Leave for Fathers Is So Important to Working Families,” Jun 17, 2015, viewed Apr 25, 2016, http://www.dol.gov/asp/policy-development/PaternityBrief.pdf.

[9]     Anca Gaston, Sarah A. Edwards, and Jo Ann Tober, “Parental leave and child care arrangements during the first 12 months of life are associated with children’s development five years later,” International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2015) 6(2): 230–251, https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/ijcyfs/article/view/13500.

[10]   Linda Houser and Thomas P. Vartanian, “Pay Matters: The Positive Economic Impacts of Paid Family Leave for Families, Businesses and the Public,” Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 2012, http://cww.rutgers.edu/sites/cww.rutgers.edu/files/documents/working_families/CWW_Paid_Leave_Brief_Jan_2012_0.pdf.; Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “The Effects of California’s Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers’ Leave-Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 17715, December 2011, http://www.nber.org/papers/w17715.

[11]   U.S. Department of Labor, “Paternity Leave: Why Parental Leave for Fathers Is So Important to Working Families,” Jun 17, 2015, viewed Apr 25, 2016, http://www.dol.gov/asp/policy-development/PaternityBrief.pdf.

[12]   California Employment Development Department, State Disability Insurance Statistical Information, http://www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/pdf/qsdi_DI_Program_Statistics.pdf, and http://www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/pdf/qspfl_PFL_Program_Statistics.pdf; New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Temporary Disability Insurance Annual Report 2014, http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/forms_pdfs/tdi/TDI%20Report%20for%202014.pdf; and Family Leave Insurance Annual Report 2014, http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/forms_pdfs/tdi/FLI%20Summary%20Report%20for%202014.pdf.

[13]   AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015”, http://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015_CaregivingintheUS_Executive-Summary-June-4_WEB.pdf.

[14]   New York Times, “Elder caregivers often sacrifice their careers,” Dec. 8, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/08/health/elder-caregivers-often-sacrifice-their-careers.html?_r=0.

[15]   AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015”, http://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015_CaregivingintheUS_Executive-Summary-June-4_WEB.pdf.

[16]   US. Census Bureau, “An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States,” May 2014, https://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p25-1140.pdf.

[17]   US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 32. Leave benefits: Access, private industry workers, National Compensation Survey, March 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2015/ownership/private/table32a.pdf.

[18]   U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey 2015, Table 35, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2015/ownership/private/table35a.pdf.

[19]   U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey 2015, Table 38, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2015/ownership/private/table38a.pdf.

[20]   U.S. Census Bureau, “Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961–2008,” Oct 2011, https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-128.pdf.

[21]   Elise Gould and Tanyell Cooke, “High quality child care is out of reach for working families,“ Oct 2015, http://www.epi.org/publication/child-care-affordability/; Child Care Aware, “What Is the Cost of Child Care in Your State? 2015,” webpage viewed May 3, 2016, http://usa.childcareaware.org/advocacy-public-policy/resources/reports-and-research/costofcare/; U.S. Census Bureau, “Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961–2008,” Oct 2011, https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-128.pdf.

[22]   In These Times, “The Real War on Families, Aug 18, 2015, http://inthesetimes.com/article/18151/the-real-war-on-families.

[23]   EOI analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey data, 2014.

[24]Elizabeth Sowell, et al, “Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents,” Nature Neuroscience 18, 773–778 (2015) published online Mrch 30, 2015, http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v18/n5/full/nn.3983.html;

[25]   Rita Hamad and David Rehkopf, “Poverty and Child Development: A Longitudinal Study of the Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit,” American Journal of Epidemiology, published online Apr 7, 2016, http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/04/06/aje.kwv317.abstract.

[26]   US Department of Labor, FMLA, viewed Apr 13, 2016, http://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.

[27]   Barbara Gault, Heidi Hartmann, Ariane Hegewisch, Jessica Milli, Lindsey Reichlin, Paid Parental Leave in the United States: What the Data Tell Us about Access, Usage, and Economic and Health Benefits, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, (January 2014), http://iwpr.org/initiatives/family-and-medical-leave.

[28]   U.S. Social Security Administration, Annual Statistical Supplement, 2012, “Temporary Disability Insurance Program Description and Legislative History,” https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2012/tempdisability.html.

[29]   Ellen Bravo, “Rhode Island becomes the third state with paid family leave,” July 3, 2013, Family Values @ Work, viewed April 14, 2016, http://familyvaluesatwork.org/blog/family-values-at-work/rhode-island-poised-to-be-third-state-with-paid-family-leave.

[30]   Carl Heastie, Press Release: “SFY 2016-17 Enacted Budget Raises the Minimum Wage and Delivers Paid Family Leave to Support Workers and their Families,” Apr 1, 2016, viewed Apr 14, 2016, http://assembly.state.ny.us/Press/20160401c/.

[31]   Los Angeles Times, “Brown signs California law boosting paid family leave benefits,” April 11,2016, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-paid-family-leave-california-20160411-story.html.

[32]   Information on the state programs can be found: California Employment Development Department, http://www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/FAQs.htm; Hawaii Disability Compensation Division, http://labor.hawaii.gov/dcd/home/about-tdi/; New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/tdi/tdiindex.html, http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/fli/fliindex.html; New York Workers Compensation Board, http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/offthejob/IntroToLaw_DB.jsp; Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, http://www.dlt.ri.gov/tdi/tdifaqs.htm.

[33]   Washington Legislature, ESHB 1319, 1988 and 1581, 1989, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/home/.

[34]   Washington Legislature, House Bill 1520 and Senate Bill 5420, 2001, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=5420&year=2001, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=1520&year=2001.

[35]   Washington Legislature, Senate Bill 6426 (House Bill 2364) 2002, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=6426&year=2001, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=2364&year=2001.

[36]   Washington Legislature, House Bill 1221 (Dickerson), Senate Bill 5377 (Keiser), http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=1221&year=2003, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=5377&year=2003.

[37]   Washington Legislature, Senate Bill 5069 and House Bill 1173, 2005, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=5069&year=2005.

[38]   Washington Legislature, Senate Bill 5659, 2007, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=5659&year=2007.

[39]   Marilyn P. Watkins, “Lessons from Winning Paid Sick Days in Seattle,” 2012, Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce and Economic Opportunity Institute, http://www.eoionline.org/work-family/paid-sick-days/lessons-from-winning-paid-sick-days-in-seattle/.

[40]   Healthy Tacoma, https://healthytacoma.net/.

[41]   Spokane Alliance, Accomplishments, viewed Apr 18, 2016, http://iafnw.org/spokanealliance/Accomplishments.

[42]   Washington Legislature, House Bill 1356 and Senate Bill 5306, 2015, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=1356&year=2015.

[43]   Washington Legislature, House Bill 1273 and Senate Bill 5459, 2015, http://app.leg.wa.gov/dlr/billsummary/default.aspx?bill=1273&year=2015.

[44]   House Bill Report 1457 (2013), http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2013-14/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/House/1457%20HBR%20LWD%2013.pdf. House Bill Report HB 1273 (2015), http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/House/1273%20HBR%20LAB%2015.pdf.

[45]   Family Values @ Work, Timeline of Wins, viewed Apr 15, 2016, http://familyvaluesatwork.org/media-center/paid-sick-days-wins.

[46]     CNN Money, “Microsoft bumps up its parental leave benefits, Aug 6, 2015,  http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/05/technology/microsoft-maternity-leave/; Wired, “Tech’s selfish reasons for offering parental leave,” Aug 13, 2015, http://www.wired.com/2015/08/techs-selfish-reasons-offering-parental-leave/; TechCrunch, “Amazon revamps parental leave policy,” Nov 2, 2015, http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/02/amazon-revamps-parental-leave-policy/.

[47]   The Stranger, “Seattle City Council approves paid parental leave for all city employees,: Apr 13, 2015, https://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/2015/04/13/22045769/seattle-city-council-approves-paid-parental-leave-for-all-city-employees; Seattle Times, “King County oks paid parental leave for some employees,” Dec 8, 2015, http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/king-county-oks-paid-parental-leave-for-some-employees/.

[48]   The Intelligencer, Associated Press, “California Governor OKs increased pay during family leave,” Apr 12, 2016, http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/1139055/California-governor-OKs-increased-pay-during-family-leave.html?isap=1&nav=537.

[49]   National Partnership for Women and Families, Press release, “Poll: Significant Support for Economic Policies for Working Families,” Feb 2014, http://www.nationalpartnership.org/news-room/press-releases/poll-significant-support-for-economic-policies-for-working-families.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/.

[50]   New Haven Register, “AARP poll strong support for Connecticut to adopt paid family leave law,“ Apr 14, 2016, http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20160414/aarp-polls-strong-support-for-connecticut-to-adopt-paid-family-leave-law.

[51]   See, for example, Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman, “Paid Family Leave Pays Off in California, Jan 29, 2011, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2011/01/paid-family-leave-pays-off-in.html; Washington House Bill Report 1457 (2013), http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2013-14/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/House/1457%20HBR%20LWD%2013.pdf

[52]   Linda Houser and Thomas P. Vartanian, “Policy Matters: Public Policy, Paid Leave for New Parents, and Economic Security for U.S. Workers,” April 2012, Center for Women and Work, Rutgers, http://cww.rutgers.edu/sites/cww.rutgers.edu/files/documents/working_families/Policy_Matters_Final_4.29.pdf; Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “The Effects of California’s Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers’ Leave-Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 17715, December 2011, http://www.nber.org/papers/w17715.

[53]     Suma Setty, Curtis Skinner, Renée Wilson-Simmons, “Protecting Workers, Nurturing Families: Building an Inclusive Family Leave Insurance Program: Findings and Recommendations from the New Jersey Parenting Project,” National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Mar 2016, http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_1152.html.

[54]   EOI calculation from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics March 2016 data for nonfarm employment, seasonally adjusted.

[55]   Rhode Island’s program is entirely through the state system. California and New Jersey allow employers to self- or privately insure in certain circumstances, but the majority of employers are in the state system. New York and Hawaii programs are largely privatized.

[56]   60% of employers reported coordinating benefits in a survey of California employers. Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman, “Paid Family Leave Pays Off in California, Jan 29, 2011, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2011/01/paid-family-leave-pays-off-in.html.

[57]   Linda Houser and Thomas P. Vartanian, “Pay Matters: The Positive Economic Impacts of Paid Family Leave for Families, Businesses and the Public,” Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 2012, http://cww.rutgers.edu/sites/cww.rutgers.edu/files/documents/working_families/CWW_Paid_Leave_Brief_Jan_2012_0.pdf.; Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “The Effects of California’s Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers’ Leave-Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 17715, December 2011, http://www.nber.org/papers/w17715.

[58]   Marilyn P. Watkins, “Local Results of Paid Sick Days Laws, Economic Opportunity Institute, Jan 2016, http://www.eoionline.org/work-family/paid-sick-days/local-results-of-paid-sick-days-laws/.

[59]   Abt Associates, Inc., Family and Medical Leave in 2012: Final Report, pp. 155-157, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.dol.gov/asp/evaluation/fmla/FMLA-2012-Technical-Report.pdf.

[60]   Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman, “Paid Family Leave Pays Off in California, Jan 29, 2011, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2011/01/paid-family-leave-pays-off-in.html.

[61]   Sharon Lerner and Eileen Appelbaum, Business As Usual: New Jersey Employers’ Experiences With Family Leave Insurance, Demos, Jun 2014, http://www.demos.org/publication/business-usual-new-jersey-employers%E2%80%99-experiences-family-leave-insurance.

[62]   Bartel, et al, “Assessing Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregivers Insurance Act: Insights from a Survey of Employers,” Jan 2016, http://www.dol.gov/asp/evaluation/completed-studies/AssessingRhodeIslandTemporaryCaregiverInsuranceAct_InsightsFromSurveyOfEmployers.pdf.

[63]   Employers Association of New Jersey, “Who We Are,” webpage viewed Apr 28, 2016, http://www.eanj.org/about/.

[64]     Employers Association of New Jersey, “Most Employers Prepared for Family Leave Insurance but Many Small Firms Are Still in the Dark,” Jun 2009, http://www.eanj.org/newsroom/most-employers-prepared-family-leave-insurance-many-small-firms-are-still-dark.

[65]   “Implementation and Early Outcomes of the City of Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance,” prepared by Jennifer Romich et al, University of Washington, for the Seattle City Auditor, April 2014, http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/CityAuditor/auditreports/PSSTO_ReportSummaryOCAEmail.pdf.

[66]    Paid Family Leave California, “New Poll Finds Just 36% Of California Voters Aware Of State’s Paid Family Leave Program,” Jan 14, 2015, http://paidfamilyleave.org/news-room/press-releases/new-poll-finds-just-36-of-california-voters-aware-of-states-paid-family-leave-program.

[67]   NJ.com “You probably don’t know NJ allows paid family leave, study says,” Mar 30, 2016, website viewed Apr 29, 2016, http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/03/paid_family_leave_law_works_but_few_know_about_it.html;

[68]   Center for Women and Work, Rutgers University, “Policy in Action: New Jersey’s Paid Family Leave Program at Age Three,” Jan 2013, http://njtimetocare.com/sites/default/files/01_CWW%20Report-%20Policy%20in%20Action-%20New%20Jersey%27s%20Family%20Leave%20Insurance%20Program%20at%20Age%203.pdf.

[69]   Suma Setty, Curtis Skinner, Renée Wilson-Simmons, “Protecting Workers, Nurturing Families: Building an Inclusive Family Leave Insurance Program: Findings and Recommendations from the New Jersey Parenting Project,” National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Mar 2016, http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_1152.html.

[70]   Setty, et al., “Protecting Workers, Nurturing Families” National Center for Children in Poverty, Mar 2016, http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_1152.html.


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Issue Brief | April 12, 2016 | By Marilyn Watkins, Sam Hatzenbeler

Executive Summary

From high-profile CEOs and movie stars to healthcare and retail workers, men consistently make more than women. Social scientists and economists have found clear evidence that gender-based discrimination persists – and is so deeply ingrained in culture and practice that it often goes unrecognized. Ensuring that all employees have the right to discuss and ask about pay and job opportunities, and that anti-discrimination laws are effectively enforced, will benefit women, families, businesses, and our state economy.

What’s the wage gap?

More than seventy years after Washington State banned paying women less for similar work, women’s pay still trails significantly behind men’s. Women make up half of the workforce and are either the sole or primary breadwinners in over 40% of families with children nationally.[i] Yet, the typical Washington woman who worked full-time, year-round in 2014 took home only 77 cents for every $1.00 made by a man.[ii]

Washington women who worked full-time in 2014 were paid $13,000 less than men, diminishing family budgets and undercutting community business prosperity. Women of color face especially large wage disparities. Median pay for White women in Washington is 74% of White men’s, for Black women 68%, and Latinas 48%. The wage gap persists at all education levels and across occupations. More women than men between the ages of 25 and 45 hold four-year college degrees in Washington, but women need those degrees to make the same amount of income as men with less formal schooling.[iii]

Median Earnings by Education Level, Washington 2014, for population over age 25 with earnings

equal pay and opportunity image 1

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey

Extra months women must work to equal White men’s annual pay for full-time, year-round workers, Washington, 2014

equal pay and opportunity image 2

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey

Why is there a wage gap?

Occupational segregation and devaluing “women’s work”: Continued occupational segregation and the lower value society assigns to “women’s work” explain a big part of the wage gap. Men hold 4 in 5 jobs in highly paid engineering and computer-related fields, and 3 in 4 jobs in aerospace manufacturing. Childcare teachers – mostly women – get paid less than male roof helpers. Secretaries and dental assistants make less than auto body repairers and truck drivers.[iv]

Median Annual Pay by Sex and Occupation, Full-Time, Year Round Workers, Washington, 2014

equal pay and opportunity image 3

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey

Segregation persists and men’s jobs pay more within occupational categories. Men hold more retail sales jobs in hardware stores, while women predominate in clothing stores.[v] In groceries, men dominate as meat cutters and make more than deli workers – who are mostly women.[vi]

Time out for family care: The “wage gap” usually is calculated using only figures for full-time, year-round workers. It becomes even larger when we consider that women are more likely than men to work part-time and to take time out of the workforce for family care. In Washington, women make up 47% of the full workforce, but hold only 41% of full-time, year-round jobs.[vii] If women scale back to make time for family for any part of their careers, they often lose even more in seniority, opportunities for promotion, lifetime pay, and retirement income.

Motherhood penalty: On average, mothers make lower wages than women without children, even after qualifications and hours worked are taken into account.[viii] Studies have shown that employers are less likely to hire women with children than either childless women or fathers, regardless of education and experience.[ix] A study of 200 managers at Fortune 100 companies found that they tended to assume that women employees had more difficulty balancing work and family than men, even though the women themselves reported less conflict. That bias resulted in the managers being less willing to promote women.[x] Harvard economists found that professional women who took maternity leave made less than their male counterparts who took similar paternity leaves: a gap of 41% for those with MBA degrees, 29% for lawyers, and 33% for female PhD’s.[xi]

Discrimination: Economists have found that up to 40% of the wage gap cannot be explained by differences in occupation, industry, union membership, education, or experience.[xii] At least part of this wage gap is related to discrimination. Women are offered lower compensation than men when first hired, even if education and experience levels are similar, and they receive smaller and less frequent promotions.[xiii]

Factors contributing to the Gender Wage Gap

equal pay and opportunity image 4

Source: Blau & Kahn, “The Gender Pay Gap,” Academy of Management, Perspectives, 2007

Why existing laws aren’t enough

Washington State passed an Equal Pay Act in 1943 during World War II, when many women were performing traditionally male jobs. That law prohibits paying women less than men in similar work or in jobs formerly held by men. But to pursue a discrimination claim under this law, a woman would have to sue her employer in court and could only recover lost wages, not court costs or attorney fees.

Both Washington State and the federal government have passed additional anti-discrimination laws that protect people in a number of categories, including gender, race, disability or veteran status. Under these laws, however, women must prove intentional discrimination. Courts have allowed employers wide latitude in justifying paying women less than men, including giving men and women different job titles for similar work. Employers may even claim there was no reason they paid a man more, but they did not intend to discriminate.[xiv]

Many women never find out they are being paid less due to pay secrecy. While salary information is usually openly available in public sector jobs, one third of private firms admit in national surveys to actively discouraging or prohibiting employees from discussing their pay with other employees.[xv] Among employees, over 60% of private sector workers reported in a 2010 survey that they were discouraged or prohibited from discussing pay.[xvi]

Modernizing state law: The Washington Equal Pay Opportunity Act

No single policy will close the gender pay gap, but greater wage transparency will provide everyone with more opportunity to gain equal wages, open new career opportunities for more women, and begin to challenge society’s general undervaluing of women’s work. House Bill 1646 passed Washington’s House in both 2015 and 2016 with bipartisan support, but did not pass out of committee in the Republican-controlled Senate.[xvii]

Washington needs an Equal Pay and Opportunity Act that will:

  • ­Protect the rights of all workers to discuss or ask about compensation, and prohibit retaliation against employees who do so. This will enable workers to find out if others are paid more for the same work.
  • ­Protect the right of workers to ask why they are being paid less, or why they do not have the same access to job or career opportunities as others.
  • ­Authorize the Washington Department of Labor and Industries to investigate charges of gender discrimination so workers aren’t forced to go to court – and require employers being investigated to justify differences in pay & opportunity with job-related reasons, such as education, skills, or experience.

Pushing to the next level

Family-friendly workplace policies such as paid sick days, family and medical leave insurance, and reasonable accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding women – along with more public funding for early learning and child care – will also boost family budgets and women’s lifetime incomes. Local businesses will benefit, and our economy and communities will be stronger, when women have the opportunity to achieve equal pay.


[i]      W. Wang, K. Parker, P. Taylor, “Breadwinner Moms,” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project 2, 2013, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/29/breadwinner-moms/.

[ii]     U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey, 1-year estimates.

[iii]    U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey, 1-year estimates.

[iv]    Washington Employment Security Department, “Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,” 2015, https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/employmentdata/reports-publications/occupational-reports/occupational-employment-and-wage-estimates.

[v]     U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey, 1-year estimates; and Quarterly Workforce Indicators.

[vi]    Data provided to the Economic Opportunity Institute by UFCW Local 21.

[vii]    U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey, 1-year estimates.

[viii]   SJ Glynn, “Explaining the Gender Wage Gap”, Center for American Progress, 2014, http://americanprogress.org/issues/economy/report/2014/05/19/90039/explaining-the-gender-wage-gap/; M. Budig, P. England, “The Wage Penalty for Motherhood,” American Sociological Review, 2001 (April):204–25, http://www.abstracts.asanet.org/images/members/docs/pdf/featured/motherwage.pdf; C. Goldin, L. Katz, “The Career Cost of Family,” Focus on Workplace Flexibility, 2010, http://workplaceflexibility.org/images/uploads/program_papers/execsum_career_cost.pdf.

[ix]    S. Correll, S. Benard, I. Paik, “Getting a Job: Is there a Motherhood Penalty?” American Journal of Sociology, 2007, 112(5):1297–339, http://gender.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/motherhoodpenalty.pdf.

[x]     Hoobler, et al, “Bosses’ Perceptions of Family-Work Conflict and Women’s Promotability: Glass Ceiling Effects,” The Academy of Management Journal, vol. 52, no. 5, October 2009, cited in Strategy-Business, “Gender Inequality: How False Perceptions Affect Promotions,” http://www.strategy-business.com/article/re00069?gko=b8a0d.

[xi]    C. Goldin, L. Katz, “The Cost of Workplace Flexibility for High-Powered Professionals,” ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2011: 638 (45), http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/goldin/files/the_cost_of_workplace_flexibility_for_high-powered_professionals.pdf.

[xii]    SJ Glynn, “The Top 10 Facts About the Wage Gap,” Center for American Progress, 2012, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/news/2012/04/16/11391/the-top-10-facts-about-the-wage-gap/; Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn, “The Gender Pay Gap: Have Women Gone as Far as They Can?” Academy of Management Perspectives, 2007, Feb.: 7-23.

[xiii]   S. Glynn, “On Pay Equity Day, Why Women Are Paid Less Than Men,” Think Progress, 2013, http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/04/09/1839281/on-equal-pay-day-why-women-are-paid-less-than-men/; M Diamond, “Study: Women Ask for Raises and Promotions as Often as Men, But Get Less in Return,” Think Progress, 2012, http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/01/10/401419/study-women-raises/.

[xiv]   Legal Voice analysis of case law.

[xv]    R Gely, L Bierman, “Pay Secrecy/Confidentiality Rules and the National Labor Relations Act,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of Labor and Employment Law, 2003:6(122-156), http://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1162&context=jbl.

[xvi]   A. Hegewisch, C. Williams, R. Drago, “Pay Secrecy and Wage Discrimination,” Institute for Women’s Policy Research, extract pulished Jan. 2014, http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/pay-secrecy-and-wage-discrimination.

[xvii]   http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1646&year=2015.


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Testimony | February 27, 2016 | By Marilyn Watkins

Executive Summary

Testimony by Marilyn Watkins on ESHB 1646, Equal Pay and Opportunities Act, Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, February 26, 2016

MW Testimony EHSB 1646 clip

Click to watch (TVW), advance to 31:10

Good morning. I’m Marilyn Watkins with the Economic Opportunity Institute, speaking in opposition to the striking amendment on House Bill 1646.

Unequal pay is hurting Washington women and undermining community prosperity. My organization strongly supported the Equal Pay Act as it was introduced and passed the House. But the proposed bill here in committee today takes us backward.

The typical employed Washington woman made $15,000 less than the typical man in 2014 – a big hit to family pocket books. For every dollar paid to white men, white women who worked fulltime in Washington in 2014 made 74 cents, Black women 58 cents, and Latinas just 48 cents, according to American Community Survey data. This is true even though women now compose half the workforce and earn the majority of college and advanced degrees.

There are many reasons for the wage gap. Among them are job segregation and biases – often unconscious – of firm managers. Biased assumptions reduce the likelihood that women and all people of color will be hired, assigned to high wage departments, or promoted.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that supervisors and coworkers frequently don’t recognize or belittle women’s contributions. Even in college science classes, women must significantly out-perform men to be considered knowledgeable by male peers. A recent study of 200 managers at Fortune 100 companies found that they tended to assume that women employees had more difficulty than men in balancing work and family, even though the women themselves reported less conflict. That bias resulted in less willingness to promote women.

Other studies have found that all other qualifications being equal, motherhood renders women less employable while fatherhood makes men more desirable to employers. And people with “ethnic-sounding” names have a much harder time landing a job interview than people with “white” names with similar resumes.

As a result, women, especially women of color, have less bargaining power and often start at lower wages than men.

This discrimination is compounded by the fact that 60% of private sector workers are prohibited by their employers from discussing compensation. So most people don’t know when someone else is getting paid more for the same job – or which job tracks are likely to result in higher pay long term. Moreover, when workers do discover wage discrimination, the burden is on them to go to court and prove that their employer intended to discriminate on the basis of gender or race.

Gender-based wage inequality is too pervasive and too harmful to be left to the goodwill of individual companies.

The Equal Pay and Opportunities bill as it passed the House would make real progress by facilitating wage transparency, opening doors of opportunity, and providing realistic recourse for people who face discrimination.

The proposed substitute sets us back, by further empowering employers to practice wage secrecy. I urge you to reject it and instead pass the underlying bill.


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