SEATTLE - Over the weekend, working moms might have been treated to
cards, flowers and even breakfast in bed. But today, life is back to
normal - and for Washington women, that means earning less per hour on
the job and receiving fewer workplace benefits than men.
"Washington's Working Women 2010," a new report by the Economic
Opportunity Institute (EOI), indicates the economic progress of
women in the Evergreen State has stalled. Its comparison of jobs and
wages shows almost a $5-per-hour gap in median wages between women and
men - largely because of the types of work they do.
However, report author Marilyn Watkins says, in the deep recession of
the last two years, both sexes have been affected by businesses cutting
hours and benefits.
"With the global competitive economy, with the ability of companies to
outsource, there has been a real downward pressure on wages and
benefits. Without the pressure of minimum standards being established by
law, we're unlikely to see a real improvement."
Watkins, an economist and EOI policy director, says just over 37 percent
of Washington women work part-time, compared to 23 percent of men.
Part-timers seldom receive paid sick leave or are eligible for
retirement benefits, she adds, although more women are their family's
"Women's wages are really critical to the economic survival of the
family unit. In this last recession, we've seen far more men than women
lose their jobs. That means in more families than ever, women are
contributing - in many cases - the majority of the income."
Watkins thinks it will take legislation to change traditional workplace
policies. She says many businesses have not kept pace with new realities
in today's family life, such as single-parent households and workers
who are caring for both children and aging relatives. No matter what
moms got for Mother's Day, she adds, what they need is fair pay and more
flexibility on the job - including paid family leave.