There are now 3.7 million fewer women working than there were in February 2020, in large part because of the pandemic, eroding more than 30 years of progress in women’s labor force participation. Even more women have reduced their hours. Many others have managed precarious job conditions and additional caregiving responsibilities, threatening economic security for them and their families and unmasking the fragility of our caregiving infrastructure. Our economic recovery depends on addressing longstanding discrimination and barriers that have hampered women—particularly women of color—from fully participating in the labor force. The resulting gender and racial income and wealth gaps have only been magnified and exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.
President Biden’s American Jobs Plan is an historic public investment that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure and strengthen economic competitiveness– including by modernizing schools and upgrading child care centers; creating good-paying, quality jobs; investing in a robust care infrastructure, a cornerstone of a resilient and sustainable economy; and developing the workforce and new career pathways which will strengthen the pipeline for more women and communities of color. This includes ensuring jobs with fair and equal pay, safe and healthy workplaces, and workplaces free from racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination and harassment.
Specifically, President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will:
REBUILD, REENERGIZE, AND REVITALIZE OUR INFRASTRUCTURE – INCLUDING OUR NATION’S SCHOOLS AND CHILD CARE FACILITIES
Modernize our nation’s schools and child care facilities. The President’s plan invests $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools, through $50 billion in direct grants and an additional $50 billion leveraged through bonds. These funds will first go toward making sure our schools are safe and healthy places of learning for our kids and workplaces for teachers and other education professionals, for example by improving indoor air quality and ventilation. Too many students attend schools and child care centers that are run-down, unsafe, and pose health risks. These conditions are dangerous for our kids and exist disproportionately in schools with a high percentage of low-income students and students of color. And even before COVID-19, 43% of parents reported struggling to find an adequate child care facility for their children. President Biden believes we can’t close the opportunity gap if low-income kids go to schools in buildings that undermine health and safety, while wealthier students get access to safe buildings with labs and technology that prepare them for the jobs of the future.
Upgrade child care facilities and build new supply in high need areas. Lack of access to child care makes it harder for parents to fully participate in the workforce, which still tends to have a disproportionate impact on mothers. These investments will provide safe, accessible, energy efficient, high-quality learning environments for providers to teach and care for children. Public investments in schools and childcare improve children’s outcomes—the foundation for future productivity gains.
Fix highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports, airports and transit systems. President Biden’s plan increases resilience in the most essential services, including the electric grid, food systems, urban infrastructure, community health and hospitals, and our roads, rail, and other transportation assets.
Eliminate all lead pipes across the nation to safeguard the health and safety of families of color. President Biden’s plan will eliminate all lead pipes and service lines in our drinking water systems, improving the health of our country’s children, especially in communities of color. This investment will also reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare facilities.
Bridge the digital divide by achieving 100 percent coverage of high-speed broadband. Black and Latino families are less likely to be able to access home broadband internet than White families, compounding systemic barriers to opportunity and economic equality. The last year made painfully clear the cost of these disparities, particularly for students who struggled to connect while learning remotely, compounding learning loss and social isolation for those students.
SOLIDIFY THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF OUR CARE ECONOMY
Invest in care infrastructure. President Biden is calling on Congress to make substantial investments in the infrastructure of care in our country. Specifically, he is calling on Congress to put $400 billion towards expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities. These investments will help hundreds of thousands of Americans finally obtain the long-term services and support they need, while creating new jobs and offering caregiving workers a long-overdue raise, stronger benefits, and an opportunity to organize or join a union and collectively bargain.
Expand access to long-term care services under Medicaid. President Biden believes more people should have the opportunity to receive care at home, in a supportive community, or from a loved one. President Biden’s plan will expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) and extend the longstanding Money Follows the Person program that supports innovations in the delivery of long-term care.
Ensure caregivers can access good jobs. Caregivers – who are disproportionally women of color – have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long. Wages for essential home care workers, for example, are approximately $12 per hour, putting them among the lowest paid workers in our economy. In fact, one in six workers live in poverty, and the high rate of turnover in this sector results in lower care quality and higher employer costs. The HCBS expansion under Medicaid can support well-paying caregiving jobs that include benefits and the ability to collectively bargain, building state infrastructure to improve the quality of services and to support workers. This will improve wages and quality of life for essential home health workers and yield significant economic benefits for low-income communities and communities of color.
EXPAND JOB AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN
Protect the health, safety and rights of working women. This includes jobs with fair and equal pay, safe and healthy workplaces, and workplaces free from racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination and harassment. In addition to a $10 billion investment in enforcement as part of the plan’s workforce proposals, the President is calling for increased penalties when employers violate workplace safety and health rules.
Empower working women. President Biden is calling on Congress to ensure all workers have a free and fair choice to join a union by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Unions benefit women’s wages; in 2020, the median weekly earning of full-time workers 16+ was $1,067 for women who are members of unions, $1,057 for women who are represented by unions, and $862 for non-union women. His plan also ensures domestic workers receive the legal benefits and protections they deserve and tackles pay inequities based on gender.
Invest in gender equitable workforce development programs. As more Americans rejoin the workforce or seek out new opportunities in a changing economy, we must ensure workers have ready access to the skills they will need to succeed, and improve racial and gender equity. This includes registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, creating one to two million new registered apprenticeships slots, and strengthening the pipeline for more women and people of color to access these opportunities through successful pre-apprenticeship programs, such as through the Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations grants that help to expand pathways for women to enter and lead in all industries.
Create new career pathways for women. These investments also include the creation of career pathway programs in middle and high schools, prioritizing increased access to computer science and high-quality career and technical programs that connect underrepresented students to STEM and in-demand sectors through partnerships with both institutions of higher education and employers.
Eliminate gender and racial inequities in research and development and science, technology, engineering, and math. Discrimination leads to less innovation: one study found that innovation in the United States would quadruple if women, people of color, and children from low-income families invented at the same rate as other groups who are not held back by discrimination and structural barriers. Persistent inequities in access to R&D dollars and to careers in innovation industries prevents the U.S. economy from reaching its full potential.
Support people re-entering communities in accessing employment. President Biden’s plan will also invest in job training for formerly incarcerated women, men, and justice-involved youth, who, because of entrenched disparities in the criminal justice system, are disproportionately Black and Latino. President Biden’s plan will facilitate effective reentry and support evidence-based violence prevention programs while promoting public safety.
Help women-owned small businesses, and minority business enterprises, access capital and scale through over $30 billion in investments. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest in federal programs that empower small firms to participate in federal research and other research and development initiatives that have the potential for commercialization. The American Jobs Plan will also create a new grant program through the Minority Business Development Agency that will help small manufacturing businesses owned by people of color and women of color access private capital. And, it will enable small businesses to drive the economic recovery by investing $15 billion in the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program and Small Business Investment Company program.
INVEST IN HEALTHY AND SAFE COMMUNITIES
Invest in evidence-based community violence interventions that reduce violence and promote employment and economic development. Violence disrupts employment and prevents a community’s economic development. Gun violence alone kills almost 40,000 people annually and injures more than twice as many. It disproportionately impacts Black communities and other communities of color. An average of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner every month. One analysis has found that gun violence causes $280 billion in economic loss annually. President Biden’s plan will invest $5 billion over 8 years in evidence-based community violence intervention programs that train at-risk individuals for jobs and provide other wraparound services to prevent violence and assist victims. These strategies have been proven to reduce violence and will help rebuild economies in the hardest hit areas.
Deliver affordable housing to women of color and their families who are most burdened by the affordable housing crisis. Following decades of racially discriminatory federal housing policies, people of color are more likely to be rent burdened, or to live in sub-standard housing. And, three-quarters of households living in public housing developments are female-headed, while the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population is women and families, with 84% of homeless families headed by single women. President Biden’s plan invests $213 billion to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live, extending affordable housing opportunities to underserved communities nationwide.
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