Report: Working Women Add $1.7 Trillion to Economy in 35 Years

Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 07:29 PM

By Cathy Burke

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A steady rise in the number of full-time working women has pumped more than $1.7 trillion into the U.S. economy over the past 35 years, a new report says.

The report by the Center for American Progress and the Center for Economic and Policy Research figured that if women had not increased their working hours as they did, the gross domestic product would have been about 11 percent lower in 2012.

"In today's dollars, this translates to more than $1.7 trillion less in output – roughly equivalent of combined U.S. spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in 2012," the report said.

The report called the increase in the share of mothers who work full-time and a full year "most dramatic," rising from 27.3 percent in 1979 to 46 percent of mothers in 2007, then declining to 44.1 percent in the subsequent recession.

The median annual hours worked by women increased 739 hours from 1979 to 2012, the report found, with all of the increase happening between 1979 and 2000. Median annual hours of work by mothers increased "even more dramatically," rising 960 hours from 1979 to 2012, again with the increase occurring by 2000.

Heather Boushey, co-author of the report, said it focuses on how much women’s earnings have strengthened the middle class and the economy, The Hill reported.

“The finding that the movement of women out of the home has significantly affected GDP and the middle class makes the need to restructure our employment standards for the reality of the 21st-century workforce even more urgent," she said.

The report recommends giving workers more control over their schedules with a right-to-request law, instituting a national family and medical leave insurance program, and allowing workers to earn paid sick days.

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