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Employment & Job Quality

About Employment & Job Quality

IWPR examines the quality of jobs across a diverse range of workers and job types, with an emphasis on low-wage employment. Our research explores access to employment benefits such as paid leave, pensions, and health insurance, as well as the adequacy of governmental work supports including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Social Security. The area also covers the use and value of "family-friendly" policies such as paid time off to care for sick family members, flextime, telecommuting, and child care assistance.

More than 44 million Americans lack access to paid sick leave, but campaigns are underway at city, state, and national levels to pass paid sick days legislation.

IWPR research in workplace leave policies made an early impact. In its founding year, IWPR analyzed the costs to American workers of not having unpaid leave for childbirth, personal health needs, or family care giving in its inaugural publication, Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans of the Lack of Family and Medical Leave. IWPR testified before the U.S. Senate with the report’s unique findings. Our research showed that—by not recognizing the need for work-life balanceestablished policies not only failed to support workers and their families, but were costly to taxpayers. Six years later, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law.

Access to paid sick leave is another important and relevant component of job quality. Having paid sick days also provides more economic security, particularly to low-income workers, who are able to take a day off to care for their own illness or for a family member without fear of losing their job. This issue is particularly important to women who tend to serve as caregivers for children and older relatives. More than 44 million Americans lack access to paid sick leave, but campaigns are underway at city, state, and national levels to pass paid sick days legislation. IWPR research on paid leave has found that employees with access to the benefit have better self-reported health and are less likely to visit hospital emergency rooms, reducing private and public health care costs.

According to a 2010 survey, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, as of late 2010, 76 percent of Americans favored laws supporting paid family and medical leave, 75 percent support policies promoting quality, affordable child and after-school care, and 69 percent support national paid sick days legislation. These policies must be accessible to those who need them most. IWPR’s research found that, during the 2009–2010 recession, 62 percent of the 15.5 million women living in poverty did not receive food stamps, and 88 percent received no TANF income.

In addition to its ongoing research, IWPR is conducting public education activities and holding forums for disseminating information about the need for and benefits of new job quality policies to policymakers, business leaders, researchers, advocates, and the general public.

For more information on this critical issue, visit our Family Leave & Paid Sick Days webpage.

Resources

View IWPR press releases and media citations related to Employment & Job Quality.

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Visit our external resources page for links to more information on this topic.

Latest Reports from IWPR

Workforce Investment System Reinforces Occupational Gender Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (June 2013)

IWPR’s analysis of training services received by WIA clients shows stark gender segregation in the jobs and careers for which women and men receive training.

 

The Truth in the Data: How Quantifying Women’s Labor Market Experiences Changes the Conversation about the Economy
by Ariane Hegewisch, Maxwell Matite, and Youngmin Yi (May 2013)

From the outset, IWPR has highlighted the wage gap as a key indicator of women’s economic security and gender (in)equality in the workplace. Fact sheets on the overall gender wage gap were published in IWPR’s first years and document how much the earnings ratio between men and women changed over time, as well as how earnings for different groups of women varied over this period of time. From 1996 onwards, the Institute’s research program on the Status of Women in the States has made these data available on a state-by-state basis, including in the report Women's Economic Status in the States: Wide Disparities by Race, Ethnicity, and Region (published in 2004). IWPR also provides state-by-state wage data in Femstats, a section of its website, in spreadsheet form. IWPR’s research has also linked trends in the wage gap to policy developments, changes in the economy, and ongoing changes in women’s lives. Such trends as later marriage, reduced fertility, gains in education, the growth of low-wage jobs and contingent work in the U.S. economy, and changes in the minimum wage, equal employment opportunity enforcement, and collective bargaining all affect women’s opportunities in the labor market, including their labor force participation and the amount of sex segregation they face in employment. IWPR’s studies have ranged from detailed examinations of specific industries to analyses of trends affecting the entire economy.

 

Job Growth Slows for Both Women and Men
by The Institute for Women's Policy Research (April 2013)

#Q008 updated, Quick Figures, 2 pages
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Women and the Care Crisis: Valuing In-Home Care in Policy and Practice
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., (April 2013)

The paper suggests that to improve the quality of in-home care jobs, address the industry’s anticipated labor shortage, and ensure that high-quality care is available in the United States, it is necessary to increase the value attributed to care work through critical changes in public policies and practices. These changes would benefit not only the women and men who are care workers or recipients, but also the nation overall. As a sector in which job growth is especially rapid, the care industry is integral to the U.S. economy; as a result, any changes that help to fill the gap in this industry and improve conditions for its workforce will strengthen the nation’s economy as a whole.

 

Quality Employment for Women in the Green Economy: Industry, Occupation, and State-by-State Job Estimates
by Ariane Hegewisch, Jeff Hayes, Ph.D., Tonia Bui, Anlan Zhang (April 2013)

This report provides the first-ever estimates of women’s employment in the green economy, state-by-state, by industry, and by occupation. The analysis draws on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey; the Brookings-Battelle Clean Economy database; and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Green Goods and Services survey. The report examines women’s share of employment in the occupations predicted to see the highest growth in the green economy and includes two alternative state-by-state estimates for growth in green jobs. Focusing on investments in green buildings and retrofits, the report includes a state-by-state analysis of employment in key construction occupations by age, race, ethnicity, and gender. This report was funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Sustainable Employment in a Green US Economy (SEGUE) Program. It is the first of a series of publications investigating strategies for improving women’s access to quality employment in the green economy; future reports will address good practices in workforce development for women in the green economy.

#C402, Report, 72 pages
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Job Growth Improves in October for Both Women and Men: Women Gain 53 Percent of Jobs Added, Women Now Have Net Job Growth Since February 2009
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (November 2012)

According to IWPR analysis of the October employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth improved in October with women gaining 53 percent of jobs added to nonfarm payrolls. Job growth was strong for both women (91,000 jobs) and men (80,000 jobs) for a total of 171,000 jobs added.

 

103,000 New Jobs in the Private Sector: Women Continue to Lose Government Jobs
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (September 2012)

According to IWPR analysis of the August employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private sector job growth continued in August with 103,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls. However, BLS reported that there were 7,000 fewer jobs in government resulting in a net total of 96,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls in August. Of these, women gained 43,000 jobs, or 45 percent of the total, and men gained 53,000 jobs.

 

Job Growth Continues in June: Private Sector Growing Faster than Public Sector in the Recovery
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (July 2012)

According to IWPR analysis of the June employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth continued in June with 80,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls. In June women gained 32,000 jobs and men gained 48,000 jobs.

 

The Gender Wage Gap: 2011
by Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams, and Anlan Zhang (March 2012)

The ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings rose by one percentage point since 2010 and reached a historical high of 82.2 percent. The narrowing of the weekly gender earnings gap from 18.8 percent to 17.8 percent, however, is solely due to real wages falling further for men than for women. Both men and women’s real earnings have declined since 2010; men’s real earnings declined by 2.1 percent (from $850 to $832 in 2011 dollars), women’s by 0.9 percent (from $690 to $684 in 2011 dollars).

 

Tipped Over the Edge: Gender Inequity in the Restaurant Industry
by Restaurant Opportunities Center United and Family Values @ Work, HERvotes, IWPR, MomsRising, NCBCP's Black Women's Roundtable, NCRW, NOW Foundation, NPWF, NWLC, WOW, NYU Wagner, 9to5 (February 2012)

The restaurant industry employs over 10 million workers in one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the United States economy. The majority of workers in this huge and growing sector are women. Despite the sector’s growth and potential to offer opportunities to advance women’s economic security, restaurant workers’ wages have not kept pace with the industry’s economic growth.The restaurant industry offers some of the nation’s lowest-wage jobs, with little access to benefits and career advancement. In 2010, seven of the ten lowest-paid occupations were all restaurant occupations. The restaurant industry has one of the highest concentrations of workers (39 percent) earning at or below the minimum wage. Moreover, low wages tell only part of the story; workers also lack access to benefits and career mobility. These challenges create a disproportional burden for women.

 

Tipped Over the Edge: Gender Inequity in the Restaurant Industry (Executive Summary)
by Restaurant Opportunities Center United and Family Values @ Work, HERvotes, IWPR, MomsRising, NCBCP's Black Women's Roundtable, NCRW, NOW Foundation, NPWF, NWLC, WOW, NYU Wagner, 9to5 (February 2012)

The restaurant industry employs over 10 million workers1 in one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the United States economy. The majority of workers in this huge and growing sector are women. Despite the sector’s growth and potential to offer opportunities to advance women’s economic security, restaurant workers’ wages have not kept pace with the industry’s economic growth. The restaurant industry offers some of the nation’s lowest-wage jobs, with little access to benefits and career advancement. In 2010, seven of the ten lowest-paid occupations were all restaurant occupations.The restaurant industry has one of the highest concentrations of workers (39 percent) earning at or below the minimum wage. Moreover, low wages tell only part of the story; workers also lack access to benefits and career mobility. These challenges create a disproportional burden for women.

 

Improved Job Growth in January for Both Women and Men: Women Re-Entering the Labor Force, But Men Leaving
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (February 2012)

According to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the February employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth improved in January with 243,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls. In January, women gained 95,000 jobs (almost 40 percent, above their share for the past year) and men gained 148,000.

 
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Low Literacy Means Lower Earnings, Especially for Women
by Jennifer Herard, Kevin Miller, Jane Henrici, and Barbara Gault (February 2012)

 

Equal Job Growth for Women and Men in Last Quarter of 2011: Women Continue to Leave the Labor Force
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (January 2012)

According to IWPR analysis of the January employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth was moderate in December with 200,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls.

 

Slow Job Growth in November for Both Women and Men
by (December 2011)

Job growth remained slow in November with 120,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls. This is up slightly from 100,000 new jobs in October, but down from 210,000 addedin September.

 

Is the Recovery Starting for Women? Slow Job Growth in October for Both Women and Men.
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (November 2011)

Job growth slowed in October with 80,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls. This is down from 104,000 new jobs in August and 158,000 in September. (September’s gains included more than 40,000 Verizon workers returning after a strike. August and September’s totals were revised by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in November). Women’s employment now appears to be rising. In October women gained 66,000 jobs, but men gained only 14,000. The revised numbers for August and September show 136,000 new jobs for women compared with 126,000 for men.

 

Slow Job Growth in September Points to Need for Federal Help with Job Creation
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (October 2011)

 

The Gender Wage Gap: 2010
by Ariane Hegewisch and Claudia Williams (September 2011)

The ratio of women‟s and men‟s median annual earnings was 77.4 for full-time/year-round workers in 2010, essentially unchanged from 77.0 in 2009.

 

Growing Job Gap Between Women and Men: Monthly Number of Women and Men on Payrolls (Seasonally Adjusted), January 2007 –July 2011
by IWPR (August 2011)

 

Separate and Not Equal? Gender Segregation in the Labor Market and the Gender Wage Gap
by Ariane Hegewisch, Hannah Liepmann, Jeffrey Hayes, and Heidi Hartmann (August 2010)

Occupational gender segregation is a strong feature of the US labor market. While some occupations have become increasingly integrated over time, others remain highly dominated by either men or women. Our analysis of trends in overall gender segregation shows that, after a considerable move towards more integrated occupations in the 1970s and 1980s, progress has completely stalled since the mid 1990s. Occupational segregation is a concern to policy makers for two reasons: it is inefficient economically, preventing able people from moving into occupations where they could perform well and that would satisfy them more than the ones open to them. And occupational segregation is a major cause for the persistent wage gap. Our analysis confirms that average earnings tend to be lower the higher the percentage of female workers in an occupation, and that this relationship is strongest for the most highly skilled occupations, such as medicine or law. Yet this is also a strong feature of jobs requiring little formal education and experience, increasing the likelihood of very low earnings for women working in female-dominated, low-skilled occupations such as childcare.

#C377, 16 pages
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