Good morning, Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi, members of the Committee and my fellow panelists. Thank you for inviting me to testify on behalf of the National Partnership for Women & Families. I particularly want to thank you, Senator Harkin. As the lead sponsor of the Rebuild America Act, you have been a tireless and effective champion for middle class families.
I am Judith Lichtman, senior advisor at the National Partnership for Women & Families, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization. For four decades, we have fought for every major policy advance that has helped women and families. We promote fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. Our goal is to create a society that is free, fair and just, where nobody has to experience discrimination, all workplaces are family friendly, and every family has access to quality, affordable health care and real economic security.
An Urgent Need for a National Commitment to Working Families
This hearing comes at a critical time for our nation’s workers and their families. There is an urgent need for a national commitment to help men and women manage the dual demands of work and family. The economy is recovering unevenly, with a labor market that is failing to create enough jobs for those seeking employment. Fewer jobs, less income and slower economic growth mean workers are stretched thin and face bigger challenges when managing work and family responsibilities. Women now make up half of America’s workforce, and their incomes are increasingly important to families’ economic survival. At the same time, women continue to have primary responsibility for family caregiving. Between 1975 and 2009, the share of women in the labor force with children under 18 increased from 47.4 percent to 71.3 percent. Working men are also investing more time in child care and are reporting higher levels of work-family conflict. And many more U.S. workers are assuming eldercare responsibilities a trend that will intensify as our country’s population ages. These and other demographic changes discussed today point to a perfect storm that demands new national public policies. More »