While attending a listening roundtable with local women in Rock Island, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) unveiled a new report on the state of economic health of women in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.
The report shows that while women have made great strides in the workplace over the last several decades, more remains to be done, and that when women succeed economically, families and communities do as well.
“When women succeed, America succeeds. By creating opportunity and increased support for women, we will not only strengthen working families, but our economy and the middle class,” said Rep. Bustos. “Mothers are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households today, but report after report still show that we continue to fail women. Now is the time to focus on enacting policies that support women’s success and that of their families.”
Specifically, the new report highlights the need to:
* Pass legislation that would ensure equal pay for equal work. Despite gains made over time and nationally, women in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District make only 70 percent of what men earn. Boosting the earning power of women will put more money in the pockets of working families and boost local economies across the region.
* Pass legislation to raise the minimum wage. It’s estimated that two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women and that someone working full-time and year-round at Illinois’ minimum wage of $8.25 an hour will earn $16,500 a year, a salary that is $3,290 below the federal poverty line for a family of three. Increasing the minimum wage will increase workers’ spending power and their families’ security.
* Provide access to affordable child care. The annual cost of child care is in the thousands of dollars for many families. Investing in affordable childcare programs for working families would allow workers to work full-time, cover their basic needs, and increase their financial stability.
* Provide paid sick leave. In Illinois, 43 percent of workers do not receive paid sick leave. Were the State of Illinois or the federal government to institute paid sick leave, Illinois employers would save roughly $272 million through increased productivity, a reduction in the spread of disease and less employee turnover.
Bustos pointed out that according to the Pew Research Center, mothers are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children under the age of 18.
–News Bulletin news sources