U.S. Census: Over half of mothers lack paid maternity leave

According to a new study released just days ago by the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of American mothers cobble together some sort of paid leave following childbirth by using a combination of sick days, vacation days, disability leave, and employer-provided maternity leave.

It is promising to see that more employers are offering paid maternity leave as a job benefit – but that still leaves 51 percent of new mothers without it. Some take unpaid leave, some quit, and some even lose their jobs.

As states take a look at the reality of life for new parents, more will be taking steps to update workplace standards to serve today’s families.

Paid family leave lowers infant mortality, encourages breast-feeding (bolstering babies’ immune systems), and allows women time to recover from childbirth. It also improves productivity by reducing turnover and helping children become better learners – all smart investments in our common wealth.

New Jersey is now close to becoming the third state in the country to give employees the right to paid family leave. Legislation going to that state’s Senate next week will offer people six weeks of paid leave to care for a sick family member at two-thirds of their salary, up to $524 a week.

The measure would be financed by employee payroll deductions that would cost every worker in New Jersey a maximum of 64 cents a week, or $33 a year – a small price to pay for such a large benefit.

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