Today, the National Partnership for Women & Families released a set of new briefs laying out how workers and the entire economy will benefit from the paid leave provisions that are included in the House of Representatives’ Build Back Better Act. Paid leave would provide relief to the nearly 3 million women who have left the workforce since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — many of whom were forced to choose between their job and caregiving responsibilities.
The new findings include:
The lack of supportive caregiving policies, including a comprehensive, paid leave policy has had a significant impact on our economy. Over the last 20 years, the U.S. has experienced a decline in women’s labor force participation, according to recent research. If labor force participation for American women aged 25 to 54 was at rates similar to those in Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom, it’s estimated that there would be up to 4.85 million more women in the workforce, amounting to $237 billion in wages per year for women and families no longer “left on the table,” and a $650 billion per year investment in the economy overall.
“Enacting paid leave will boost our economy and provide much-needed financial security to our workers, including women and women of color who are least likely to have access to an employer-sponsored program,” says Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “The United States is the only high-wealth country without any nationwide paid leave benefits. Americans should not have to choose between caring for a loved one and putting food on the table, and we urge Congress to show their commitment to working families by passing the Build Back Better Act with paid leave.”
The report comes amidst unprecedented work and caregiving challenges that have been spotlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. The United States saw one of the steepest one-year declines in women’s participation in the workforce among select OECD countries from 2019 to 2020, amounting to a $3 trillion loss in GDP over a five-year period. Currently, 77 percent of workers do not have paid family leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, and 60 percent do not have paid leave for their own disability or serious medical reasons.