One of the biggest threats to the well-being of our nation's women and families is poverty. Right now, more than 46 million Americans live below the poverty line, which is a little more than $22,000 for a family of four. And with high unemployment, job scarcity and insecurity and increasing prices for basic necessities, millions more find themselves on the brink every day.
To address this growing poverty problem, Half in Ten — an exciting project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Coalition on Human Needs and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights — released a new report this week on where the country stands in key areas affecting families' economic security, and where we need to go to cut poverty in half in the next 10 years.
The report, Restoring Shared Prosperity Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth, focuses on the importance of creating good jobs, strengthening families and promoting economic security. It sends a powerful message about what the nation's families need. And we couldn't agree more.
At the National Partnership, we know that quality jobs that offer fair pay and paid sick days are critical to the economic well-being of families, so we were pleased to see that access to these basic workplace standards are among the benchmarks used in the report to measure the nation's progress. In fact, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Center for American Progress President John Podesta and Half in Ten Director Melissa Boteach all identified access to paid sick leave as a key indicator of poverty reduction at the report's launch event.
For families already on the brink of poverty, a few paid sick days can have devastating consequences. And low-income working parents are much less likely than parents with incomes over 200 percent of the poverty line to have any form of paid leave.
As National Partnership President Debra L. Ness said:
"Basic workplace supports like paid sick days, paid leave and flexibility allow working people to keep their jobs while providing for their families — ultimately enabling them to lift themselves out of poverty or prevent it altogether. There could not be a better time to implement the report's recommendations and reduce barriers to employment and job security. We applaud Half in Ten for prioritizing these policies and raising awareness of the immense challenges facing working people and their families."
The policy prescriptions outlined in Half in Ten's new report are critical to ensuring America's families can live free from poverty — and standards like paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and fair pay can immediately alleviate some of the challenges faced by millions. We look forward to next steps and supporting the campaign as it continues.
To read the full report and state fact sheets, visit http://halfinten.org/indicators/resources.