Today the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) released a report that examined the effect of economic recession on women. “These findings demonstrate the severe and disproportionate impact of this recession on women and their families. We need to act immediately to restore women’s right to fair pay, provide workers with paid sick days, and shore up programs that help workers and families endure hard times,” Kennedy said.
The report found that the unemployment rate is going up faster for women than men. Unemployment claims jumped 20% for women in March 2008 compared to 17% for men. In 2007, women suffered a larger decline in wages than men. Male workers’ wages dropped by half a percent compared to 3% for female workers. Women are also more at risk to lose their homes since they are 32% more likely to have a subprime mortgage. The report also found that non-married women have 48% less net worth than non-married men, and they are less likely to participate in employer sponsored retirement savings programs.
In times of recession those who make the least money often are the first to feel the pain. The wage between women and men means that households were the primary breadwinner is female are likely to be hurt most by any economic downturn. I think that the Kennedy report highlights the need for urgent action.
Now isn’t the time to be fiddling around with top down tax cuts, or taking a wait and see attitude as the Republicans have suggested. No political party can prevent a recession, but an active government can cushion the blow. The ideological difference for the voters to decide on this November will be between those who want to help, and those who don’t.