FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2021
Maddy McDaniel, Communications Director
ADVOCATES, ECONOMISTS TOUT AMERICAN FAMILIES PLAN INVESTMENTS TO CREATE MORE EQUITABLE, PRODUCTIVE ECONOMY
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) Executive Director Ai-jen Poo, National Women’s Law Center’s (NWLC) Fatima Goss Graves, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Dean Baker Applaud American Families Plan on Press Call Hosted By Invest in America
American Families Plan is a $1.8 Trillion Investment in Caregiving and Education — Including Multi-Billion Dollar Investments in Child Care, Paid Family and Medical Leave, Universal Pre-kindergarten, and Community College
71% of Voters, Including 64% of Independents and 58% of Republicans, Support Investing In Care Infrastructure
More Than 70% of Voters Support Investing In Every Aspect Of The Care Economy, Including Child Care, Elderly and Disability Care, Fair Pay For Care Workers, Jobs For Care Providers, And Paid Family And Medical Leave
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, President Joe Biden unveiled the American Families Plan, a historic investment in education and care infrastructure that, alongside the American Jobs Plan, will create a more equitable economy and turbocharge the nation’s productivity and growth by funding access to schools, child care, paid family and medical leave, and an expansion of quality and affordable health care.
On a press call hosted by Invest in America, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) Executive Director Ai-jen Poo, National Women’s Law Center’s (NWLC) Fatima Goss Graves, and economist Dean Baker made the following statements in response to the introduction of the American Families Plan:
“The American Families Plan is fundamentally moving from a K through 12 education system in the United States to a pre-k through 14 system,” said Arne Duncan, former Secretary of Education under President Obama. “It is the right thing educationally, it is the right thing morally, it is the right thing economically. If we can make this fundamental change — maybe a one-in-several-decades change — it will be an extraordinary gift to our children, to their families, to our communities, and ultimately to our country.”
“With the introduction of the American Families Plan today, I’m gratified to be reminded that this is a country that can do important things and respond to the crisis before us,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center. “Throughout this crisis, women have served as a fallback plan for a government that has long taken them for granted — until now. Finally, we have an administration that is reversing gender and racial disparities that have only grown worse during the pandemic. This plan will create millions of good-paying jobs, enable mothers and caregivers to participate in the workforce, and advance racial and gender equity.”
“With the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, we have a once-in-several-generations opportunity to shore up our care infrastructure,” said Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “This plan means millions of good jobs in a sector we will need and we have needed for a long time. These are professions that are here to stay. Just like we did with manufacturing jobs, this is our moment to transform care jobs for the 21st century.”
“The American Families Plan will have a huge impact on the lives of the American people. It’s a really big deal. But the idea that the U.S. government can’t afford this level of spending is nonsensical,” said Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “This is about allowing people to work. The American Families Plan provides direct benefits to those who need care and it creates secure caregiving jobs people can and will want to stay in for years and years, and that’s a huge deal.”
“Education and care are essential parts of our nation’s infrastructure,” said Zac Petkanas, senior advisor for Invest in America. “The only way to truly come back stronger than ever after a devastating year is to go big on investments that increase the accessibility of education, work, and care for all Americans. It’s urgently needed and incredibly popular. Time to get it done.”
The U.S. Can Lead Again With The American Families Plan
When it comes to education and care infrastructure, the United States has fallen behind the rest of the developed world:
In access to child care:
- Before the pandemic, parents forewent approximately $30-35 billion in income to pay for child care, translating into a loss of $4.2 billion in annual tax revenue.
- More than 2.3 million women left the labor force in 2020, often out of the necessity to care for children home from school. More than 600,000 of whom were Black and 618,000 of whom were Latina. Now, women’s participation in the labor force is the lowest it’s been since 1988.
- One in four women — at twice the rate of men — reported unemployment during the pandemic due to a lack of child care.
In economic conditions for care workers:
- The lack of a care infrastructure continues to leave caregivers vulnerable to economic instability and greater financial strain, especially Black and immigrant women who disproportionately perform paid and unpaid care.
- Domestic workers are three times as likely to be living in poverty as other workers.
- Fewer than one in 10 domestic workers are covered by an employer-provided retirement plan and just one in five receives health insurance coverage through their job. 53% of home care workers rely on some sort of public assistance.
In access to paid leave:
- The United States is one of the few countries in the world and the only high-income country that lacks a national paid leave policy.
- 28-29% of the decrease in U.S. women’s labor force participation relative to other nations is due to the United States’ failure to keep up with other OECD countries, who expanded policies such as parental leave and part-time work entitlements.
- Meager access to paid leave in the United States is highly unequal and favors higher-income workers.
- Only 17% of workers of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employers.
- Roughly 33.6 million civilian workers do not have access to paid family leave.
- In 2019, more than 32 million people in the country did not have access to a single paid sick day, and 4 out of 5 workers did not have access to paid family leave.
- Just 8 percent of workers in the bottom wage quartile, who on average earn less than $14 an hour, had access to paid family leave in 2020.
- More than 6 in 10 voters say they would face serious financial hardship if forced to take up to a few months of unpaid leave for family or medical reasons.
- The United States’ lack of care infrastructure disproportionately hurts women:
- 48% of women versus 35% of men say they would very likely face serious financial hardship if they had to take unpaid leave.
- Nearly one-quarter of mothers are co-breadwinners.
- Black mothers have historically been more likely to work outside the home. More than 70 percent are the sole breadwinners for their families.
In early childhood education:
- In many of our peer nations, more than 90% of children are in preschool at age 3 — in France and Britain, that number is 100%. But in the U.S., one in three children doesn’t ever attend preschool.
- Overall, the U.S. ranks behind most countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), ranking 26th in preschool participation for 4-year-olds and 24th for 3-year-olds.
In access to secondary education:
- Currently, 65% of job openings require a postsecondary credential — but the significant financial barriers to entry make a college degree unattainable for too many.
- Of the 15 fastest growing occupations, 11 need some level of postsecondary education for entry.
The investments in the American Families Plan will put the country back on track to lead and boost overall productivity, including:
$225 billion investment in access to child care and child care workers
- Investing in care work, just like investing in physical infrastructure and clean energy, boosts the economy and creates new jobs.
- Going big on care infrastructure investments could support the creation of 3 million new jobs.
- Social care investments have the potential to generate twice as many jobs as infrastructure spending and 50% more jobs than green energy development.
- Investing in the care economy, in turn, produces widespread benefits in the restaurant and retail sectors as caregivers spend their disposable income.
- Increasing access to child care will help women return to their own careers. An investment of 2% of GDP in the care industry has the potential to reduce the gender gap in employment by half in the United States.
- A lack of affordable child care has become a barrier to work for many parents, especially mothers. Equal access to high-quality child care and preschool would increase GDP by $551 billion by allowing more parents to seek and keep their jobs.
- Access to affordable child care could increase the lifetime earnings for women with two children by about $94,000. It would also boost the collective lifetime earnings of a cohort of 1.3 million women by $130 billion.
“Public investment in care would allow millions of family caregivers who have left the labor market, reduced their hours, or lost their jobs in 2020 to return to work, strengthening overall economic activity and ensuring that a generation of women’s labor market gains do not disappear.”
$225 billion investment in paid family and medical leave
- Family and medical leave programs will strengthen the health of workers and solidify our economic growth.
- Research suggests there are several ways in which paid medical leave has an effect on health outcomes, including improved health management, earlier treatment, greater healthcare utilization, reduced financial stress, and enhanced return-to-work supports.
- Mothers are 20-50% less likely to separate from the labor force five years after giving birth if they have access to paid leave.
- Women with access to paid leave are 40% more likely to return to work after giving birth than those without access to leave.
- Workers and their families lose $22.5 billion in wages each year due to a lack of paid family and medical leave.
- Surveys from California’s pioneering paid family leave (PFL) program show employers reporting either a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on productivity (89%), profitability/performance (91%), turnover (96%), and employee morale (99%).
- According to Maya Rossin-Slater, assistant professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, expanding access to paid family leave “reduces disparities in leave-taking between low and high socioeconomic groups, and does so without damaging these women’s later labor market prospects.
“Paid parental leave at the state and local level improves child health and development and maternal well-being while causing minimal negative impacts on employers, and paid leave at the federal level could help children from all backgrounds, curb the growth in inequality, and boost long-term U.S. economic growth and stability.”
$200 billion investment in universal pre-kindergarten
- Universal pre-k will improve children’s development, help parents return to the workforce, and boost the economy.
- Research shows that universal preschool boosts children’s education achievement, makes children more ready for school, and can even increase the future earnings potential for low and middle-income students.
- By providing an accessible form of high-quality child care, universal preschool would help parents — especially mothers — return to or enter the workforce, saving families thousands of dollars and improving their economic well being.
- In 2009, Washington, D.C. began offering two years of universal preschool across the city’s public schools. In the years since, the city’s maternal labor force participation rate increased by 12 percentage points.
- A study from the Washington Center of Equitable Growth found that a universal preschool program would generate economic benefits surpassing the costs of the program within eight years. By 2050, the economic benefits would total $304.7 billion.
- That includes $81.6 billion in government budget benefits, $108.4 billion in increased compensation of workers, and $114.7 billion in reduced costs to individual people from better health and less crime and child abuse.
- The same study found that by 2050, universal pre-k would yield $8.90 in benefits for every $1 invested.
“[Universal pre-k] would boost educational achievement, improve economic growth rates, and raise standards of living across the income spectrum. It also would strengthen the economy’s competitiveness long into the future while simultaneously easing a host of fiscal, social, and health problems.”
$109 billion investment in free community college
- Free community college will increase access to college for millions of Americans, particularly Black and brown students, providing a pathway to education to students who would otherwise be deterred from going to college by the prospect of going into debt.
- Investing in free community college could increase college enrollment by 26%, and increase degree completions by 20%.
- The benefits of free community college would be particularly felt by students of color — making community college free leads to a 47% perfect enrollment increase for Black men, a 51% increase for Black women, a 40% increase for Latino men, and a 52% increase for Latina women.
- Free community college can pay for itself. The American Families Plan’s investments in community college could yield a total of $371.4 billion in additional tax revenue, and deliver private after-tax earnings of $866.7 billion after 11 years.
“I feel quite confident that ultimately this program will pay for itself. It will raise incomes and also raise underlying productivity which would [in turn] raise incomes and corporate profit. That’s the closest thing to a win-win.”
— Former Economic Advisor to President Clinton, Robert Shapiro