According to the report, which includes new data from 2006 through 2008, use of paid leave among first-time mothers has been largely stagnant for nearly a decade. And the divide based on socioeconomic status is striking. The new report finds that two-thirds of first-time mothers with a bachelor’s degree or higher (66 percent) take paid leave, compared to only one in five mothers without a high school diploma (19 percent). And only 21 percent of part-time working mothers take paid leave, compared to 56 percent of those who work full time. We know from years of experience that those who don’t take paid leave don’t have access to it.
This data ends before the recession, which has brought cutbacks and job insecurity for many and left millions of workers with no choice but to take one or more part-time jobs. Even more workers now have low incomes, and thus will be even less able to take unpaid time off — so the need to eliminate barriers to paid leave are even more compelling than they were when this data was collected.
We are pleased that the Census Bureau’s new report has shed light on an issue of critical importance to women and their families. Its findings should be a call to action for Congress to work toward the national paid leave standard the country needs to support families, ensure greater economic stability for all and help children get the healthy start they deserve."
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.