This is one surefire way to shore up the U.S. economy

Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from Fast Company

Katicia Roy| 01 February 2021

In less than 12 months, the United States lost 32 years of progress toward gender equity in the labor markets.

It’s no secret that the exorbitant 153% increase in women’s unpaid labor during the pandemic has contributed to this setback. The damage of which can be measured in the billions of dollars.

If the labor force participation rate among mothers persists post-COVID, the wages of U.S. families will shrink by $64.5 billion every year. The economic repercussions of this shrinkage will last generations. Unless we act now.

By mandating a national paid leave policy we can reverse the trend of women being forced out of the labor force and narrow the equity gaps inherent in our K-shaped recovery. Not only would national paid leave help the 71% of U.S. families who depend on working moms for their economic security, but it would also boost the economy at a time when we need it most. In fact, achieving gender equity in the labor markets (across all races and ethnicities) would expand the U.S. economy by $789 billion.

To better understand how a national paid leave policy can patch the holes in our pandemic-torn economy, I spoke with Washington’s leading voice on the issue: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (a Democrat from New York). Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

Katica Roy: National paid leave is your signature policy effort. Why?

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Paid leave is an important part of any economy for two reasons. First, it allows more people to thrive in the workplace. Second, it allows more children to thrive in early childhood education.

From the perspective of the child (i.e. our future labor force), the U.S. is home to millions of children who don’t have equitable access to opportunities in early childhood. National paid leave of up to three months, in conjunction with other measures such as guaranteed early childhood education, enables equity of opportunity for all children.