New Polls in 15 Key States Show Strong Public Support for Paid Leave, Policies That Help Working Families – And Officials Who Champion Them

New public opinion survey results from 15 states released today show strong support for new national policies that support working families. By a nearly two-to-one margin, 61 percent of voters in these states support the creation of a national paid family and medical leave fund, 69 percent support a paid sick days law and 57 percent support increasing access to high-quality affordable child care.

Commissioned by the 15 national organizations that make up the Work Family Strategy Council, these new results provide further evidence of the strong public demand for policies that help people manage family and work responsibilities.

Surveys were conducted among 9,611 registered voters between July 7-10 in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin and the results were aggregated and averaged across the states. Key findings from the aggregated data include:

  • Voters across states say they favor a law that would create a national paid family and medical leave fund: 61 percent say they favor such a law, 44 percent say they strongly favor one, and only 34 percent express any opposition.
  • Support for paid family and medical leave spans political parties: 84 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of Independents and 42 percent of Republicans say they favor a national paid family and medical leave fund.
  • A strong majority of people surveyed say they face challenges when managing job, family and personal responsibilities: 63 percent of full-time workers and 67 percent of part-time workers say they would be likely to face significant economic hardship if they had to take time from their jobs without pay to care for a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one or deal with their own serious health issue.
  • Voters in all 15 states say they would be more likely to vote for an elected official or candidate who supports creating a paid family and medical leave fund.
  • Voters also strongly support a national paid sick days standard and increased access to high-quality, affordable child care: 69 percent say they favor a law that would guarantee all workers the right to earn paid sick days from their employers; only 28 percent express opposition. Additionally, 57 percent say they favor increased access to high-quality, affordable child care; 35 percent express opposition.

“These data reflect voters’ opinions in diverse states and clearly confirm that it’s time for a serious discussion about how the country will address the needs of working families by adopting national paid leave and paid sick days standards,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Guaranteeing women and men access to the time they need to care for their health and the health of their families without sacrificing financial security is overwhelmingly popular and sorely needed. And these results show that elected officials who support policies that would do that are likely to receive the support of voters.”

Despite the nearly universal challenges people face in managing the demands of job and family, only 12 percent of private sector workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, and only 61 percent have access to paid sick days. For lower-wage workers, access to paid time off to use for family and medical needs is even rarer. The new data suggest voters strongly favor changing these realities.

“While the need to take time off from work is nearly universal, access to policies that allow workers to do so is not,” said Shilpa Phadke, senior director of the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress. “These polling results show that not only are commonsense policies like paid leave and access to quality child care programs widely popular among voters, but also an economic necessity for today’s working families.”

“What’s new isn’t the breadth of support for these policies, but the growing recognition that solutions are possible, as demonstrated by the wins for paid sick days in 35 locations and for paid family leave in 4 states, with many more on the horizon,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of the Family Values @ Work network of state coalitions. “Voters are seeing they can make a difference by banding together and by holding politicians accountable.”

FULL RESULTS can be found here: Arizona; Colorado; Florida; Georgia; Iowa; Minnesota; Nevada; New Hampshire; North Carolina; Ohio; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Virginia; Washington; Wisconsin and 15-state aggregate.

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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