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Women’s Economic Security Act of 2014 unveiled at Women’s Economic Security Summit

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Saint Paul, Minnesota – Today, gathered with a broad coalition of organizations, legislators, and hundreds of Minnesotans at the Women’s Economic Security Summit, Speaker Paul Thissen unveiled the Women’s Economic Security Act of 2014. The legislation includes several new initiatives designed to break down barriers to economic progress facing women – and all Minnesotans.

“Minnesota’s economy is headed in the right direction, but not everyone is sharing in the gains. And when you dig underneath the first layer of economic challenges facing Minnesotans, we find that the people struggling to stay or step-in to the middle class are disproportionately women,” said Thissen. “The Women’s Economic Security Act aims to break down barriers to economic progress so that women -- and all Minnesotans -- have a fair opportunity to succeed.”

“When women in Minnesota succeed, we grow our middle class and Minnesota prospers,” said House Majority Leader Erin Murphy. “We have an exciting opportunity in Minnesota to build on our economic progress and make Minnesota a place where women have a better chance to succeed.”

The Women’s Economic Security Act was announced at the Women’s Economic Summit, which was organized by a diverse coalition of public advocacy groups interested in improving the economic security for women in Minnesota. The Women’s Economic Security Summit featured a bipartisan group of legislators, advocates and community leaders who discussed the economic barriers facing women in Minnesota, including:

Pay equity and wages: Women make up 50% of Minnesota’s workforce, but 58% of workers who are paid $9.50 or less. And on average, women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Job segregation: Despite the fact that women are earning a majority of post-secondary degrees, they are still clustered in low-wage job sectors. Only 4 percent of women complete two-year construction, mechanical or precision production programs. Women are also underrepresented in the field of computer science. Only 17 percent of computer science bachelor’s degrees earned in Minnesota go to women.

Work-life balance: Women remain the primary caregiver for children, and for ailing relatives or parent. But many jobs do not provide flexibility or paid leave. 75% of Minnesotans who provide 20+ hours per week of regular unpaid care to a friend or family member are women.

The Women’s Economic Security Act aims to address a range of these economic barriers by:

  • Closing the gender pay gap, requiring private businesses that contract with the state to report on pay equity within their workforce.
  • Increasing income for working women and their families by increasing the minimum wage to $9.50.
  • Expanding access to high-quality, affordable childcare.
  • Expanding family and sick leave for working families, including paid sick and safe leave and expanding unpaid leave under the Minnesota Parental Leave Act.
  • Enhance protections for victims of domestic violence.
  • Encouraging women in non-traditional, high-wage jobs and support growth for women-owned small businesses.

State Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL – Saint Paul) and State Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) will chief-author the Women’s Economic Security Act.

"The goal of the legislative reforms known as the Women’s Economic Security Act is to provide equal opportunities and pay for women who comprise half of the state’s workforce," said Senate President Sandy Pappas. "While numerous gains have been made at various levels of government in this respect, inequities remain for working women in Minnesota - we hope to change that."

"The Women’s Economic Security Act lifts up working families, including our mothers, sisters, daughters, and grandmothers,” said Rep. Carly Melin. “These are the Minnesotans who work hard every single day to educate our children in classrooms, care for the sick at hospitals, keep our streets safe, and build successful small businesses. When women have equal opportunities to succeed, it means stronger families, stronger communities, and a brighter economic future for our state."

Fact Sheet Women’s Economic Security Act