Sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Linda Sánchez (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), this Capitol Hill briefing offered important perspectives on the need for job creation at the local level through, among other measures, passage of national legislation to create and save more than a million public and private jobs in local communities this year.
Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, kicked off the forum by presenting the polling results we've mentioned here before -- showing that a majority of Americans believe the government should play a larger role in shaping our economy and creating jobs, and highlighting how women are particularly affected by the failing job market. To that end, Representative Rosa DeLauro spoke about the increasing pressure women are facing as a greater share of them become co- or sole breadwinners in their households, making pay equity issues even more acute. Rep. DeLauro encouraged the support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, as well as the Local Jobs for America Act (HR 4812), noting that benefits to women will be substantial from the latter bill, as they are a large share of job holders in the education sector as well as over 60% of state and local government employees.
Representatives Linda Sánchez and Gwen Moore also held forth to lift up the need for job creation for women -- particularly low-income women and women of color, who are experiencing high unemployment rates across the nation (African American women: 12.4%; Hispanic women: 10.3%; white women: 7.4%).
Gail Cohen, Chief Economist for the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), spoke briefly on the results of a report called "Working Mothers in the Great Recession." The JEC has found that only in May did women gain almost the same number of jobs as men -- but only in temporary Census jobs. In the private sector in May, women lost 1000 jobs while men gained 42,000 jobs. Unsurprisingly, single mothers and African Americans have been hit disproportionately hard by the recession, the report shows. And part-time pay inequality remains a large concern, as many women are part-time workers.
Closing out the roster of speakers, Patricica Nalls, Founder and Executive Director of the Women's Collective, explained how the recession has affected her nonprofit, which serves the needs of women and girls with HIV. The economic downturn has resulted in a 30% loss in funding to her organization, forcing her to cut her staff from 25 to 15 employees. As a result, her clients -- HIV positive women and girls -- are missing out on much needed services. The Local Jobs for America Act, she pointed out, would allow her to rehire her staff and retain critical services to a community in need.
Learn more about the Community Voices on the Economy project: Read an Op-Ed by Ms. Foundation President & CEO Sara K. Gould and Deepak Bhargava, executive director of CCC, on how Americans want their government to behave in this new economic climate. Or download this mp3 file to listen to audio of a recent webinar explaining the poll's findings in depth.
Thanks to Susan Rees, Director of Policy and National Projects at Wider Opportunities for Women, for her assistance in capturing this information.
Photo: by Elizabeth Rappaport, Kentucky Jobs With Justice, Louisville, Kentucky, March 2010