Today, the National Partnership for Women & Families released a new report which finds that establishing a national paid leave program would especially benefit women and workers of color. These demographic groups have lower median earnings than the general population and faced the most significant health and economic consequences throughout the pandemic.
The report expands upon recently released research from National Partnership for Women & Families, which found that a median income earner who takes 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave would receive a portion of their pay that is enough to cover more than a half-year’s rent, nearly a year of child care payments, or more than a year’s worth of food.
“Enacting paid family and medical leave is essential to addressing many of the long-standing inequities in the United States,” says Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Nearly 80 percent of working adults lack access to paid leave, and many of them are frontline workers, women, and workers of color who were struggling to make ends meet even prior to the pandemic. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in an economy that truly works for all Americans by including comprehensive paid family and medical leave in the Build Back Better Act.”
Due to gender and racial wage gaps, women – and particularly women of color – tend to be paid less than men. But, as the report points out, due to progressive wage replacement in the Build Back Better paid leave plan, as advanced out of the House Ways and Means Committee, these groups will see a larger share of their usual income replaced than higher-paid demographic group, partially mitigating gender and racial gaps.
Key findings from the report include:
- Latina and Black women will see higher earnings replacement from paid leave than any other group.
- Women aged 55-64 who are working full-time and take 12 weeks of paid leave would have 21.5 percent higher annual earnings compared with those forced to take unpaid leave; men in the same demographic would have 20.4 percent higher earnings.
- Latinx and Black workers who take 12 weeks of paid leave would have at least 23 percent higher annual pay compared with those forced to take unpaid leave; similarly situated white workers would have 21.7 percent higher earnings.
- The states in which the most people and women will newly access paid family leave (once a federal program is passed and implemented), are Texas, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, with up to 10 million workers newly set to access benefits in Texas alone.