The U.S. economy will not operate at its full potential unless government and employers remove impediments to full participation by women in the labor market. The failure to address structural problems in labor markets, tax, and employment policy that women face does more than hold back their careers and aspirations for a better life. Barriers to participation by women also act as brakes on the national economy, stifling the economy’s ability to grow. To address these problems, The Hamilton Project published this book featuring a host of public policies to promote women’s economic opportunity.
Women now make up almost half the U.S. workforce, and more than half of the U.S. population. Despite the central role women play in the economy, our labor laws and institutions do little to address the various ways in which women are held back at work. This not only hampers women’s economic well-being, but also has implications for U.S. productivity, labor force participation, and economic growth. In this paper, Ansel and Boushey propose policies aimed at boosting women’s economic outcomes: paid family leave, fair scheduling, and combatting wage discrimination. They show how enacting carefully designed policies will better address the challenges of today’s labor force, enhance women’s economic outcomes, and provide benefits for the national economy.
While women’s labor force participation has increased substantially in the U.S. over the second half of the 20th century, this growth has stagnated and reversed since 2000. This pattern persists across women of varying races and ethnicities, educational backgrounds, ages, and marital statuses, and for women with and without children alike. Black, Schanzenbach, and Breitwieser note that this decline seems to be moving directly against the trends observed in other major OECD economies.
Objective, impartial data collection by federal statistical agencies is vital to informing decisions made by businesses, policy makers, and families. These measurements make it possible to have a productive discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of particular policies, and about the state of the economy. These economic facts highlight the breadth and importance of government statistics to public policy and the economy.
Individuals who were formerly incarcerated often face great difficulty in re-entering the labor market after incarceration. A multi-pronged approach—inclusive of effective policies aimed at building workers’ skills, communicating their work-readiness to employers, and promoting robust labor markets for low-skilled workers—is necessary for improving employment outcomes for workers with criminal records. In addition, it is important to consider the potential unintended consequences of regulations that restrict information available to employers.
Over the past 30 years, both the incarcerated population and the limitations placed on those with criminal records have dramatically expanded. The consequences of a criminal conviction can last long beyond any imposed sentence, but current efforts to reduce the punitiveness of the criminal justice system tend to focus on sentencing reform rather than consequences for those who have already served prison terms. The author offers three principles for reform efforts aimed at reducing criminal justice punitiveness.