Thursday, April 19, 2012


For at least twenty years, low income mothers and their allies have urged lawmakers to recognize caregiving for one's own children as WORK.  If adopted, this principle would vastly improve low income mothers' access to and treatment within important safety net programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.  Urge your Member of Congress to sign on to this essential legislation!

Stark Introduces Bill to Recognize Low-Income Mothers' Care for Their Young Children as Work
Romney was Right: "All Moms Are Working Moms;" Our Laws
Should Reflect This Fact

WASHINGTON -- Today, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) introduced the Women's Option to Raise Kids Act (WORK Act), H.R. 4379, which would recognize that all parents who stay home to raise young children are, in fact, doing important and legitimate work. Original cosponsors of the WORK Act include Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Laura Richardson (D-CA).

Rep. Stark: "Mitt Romney was for ObamaCare before he was against it. Then, he was for forcing low-income mothers into the workforce before he decided 'all moms are working moms'."

"I think we should take Mr. Romney at his most recent word and change our federal laws to recognize the importance and legitimacy of raising young children. That's why I've introduced the WORK Act to provide low-income parents the option of staying home to raise young children without being pushed into poverty."

Why we need the WORK Act:
Current law does not count low-income stay-at-home parents who are raising young children as meeting the necessary Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work requirement. Current law also bans states from counting these individuals toward that state's work participation rate, which can result in financial penalties if not met.  This effectively bars low-income parents who choose to stay home to raise their young children from access to the financial support of TANF.

As reported by the New York Times and others, the TANF program has been particularly unresponsive during the economic downturn (see this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).  Today, TANF is only serving 27% of families living in poverty, compared to 68% when the program was enacted to great acclaim in 1996.  The result is that more children are being pushed deeper into poverty and destitution.  Congress needs to start fixing this problem to ensure that low-income families have access to needed assistance. The WORK Act is an important step in that direction.
What the WORK Act does:
The WORK Act would amend TANF law to recognize the critical job of raising children age three or younger as work. Under the legislation, low-income parents could work, receive job training, search for work, or raise their children until they are school-aged without fear of losing TANF support and being pushed deeper into poverty. This is the same option that wealthy families, such as the Romneys, enjoy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Today is Equal Pay Day. For women in general to earn what men earned last year, they'd have to work 3.5 extra months.

Here are some facts about the wage gap and its consequences:

*  Overall, women earn 77cents on the male dollar. Black women earn just 62cents and Latinas only 53cents to every dollar men earn.

*  Lifetime wage gap = $720,000 less pay for women high school graduates; $1.2 million less for women college graduates; $2 million less for women professional school graduates.

* Most recent data show median earnings for women were $36,931 compared to $47,715 for men.

*  College-educated women earn 5% less than male peers the 1st yr out of school. After 10 yrs, they earn 12 percent less.

*  For Latinas with a BA in 2009, the mean yearly pay was $39,566 -- that's $31,720 less than white men.

*  The wage gap goes up with age. Women age 25-29 have yearly wage gap of $1,702. In the last five years of employment before retirement, the yearly gap jumps to $14,352.

*  The wage gap is bigger for single women. Single women earn only 57 cents for every dollar that married males earn.

 *  Women's lower earnings lead to a higher poverty rate for single mothers. 50% of single mothers have an income of less than $25,000/yr.

*   17.2 million women lived in poverty in 2010.  25% of Latinas and 24.6% of Black women were poor as compared to 14.5% of women overall.

*  In 2010 Latina & Black single mothers poverty rates were 50.3%and 47.1%, vs 15.1% for the population as a whole. The poverty rate for female-headed families w/kids was 40.7% overall.

*  Mothers earn 7% less per child than childless women.

*  50% of single mothers have an income of less than $25,000/yr.

*  The poverty rate for single mother families is 3X that of other families.

*   3/4 of homeless families are single mother families.

*   Wage gap produces a wealth gap. The median wealth of white single moms w/kids under 18 is $6,000. Latina & Black single mothers have median wealth of $0.

*   At current rate of progress it will take 45 yrs to close gender wage gap.  How long will it take to End Poverty?