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.