Blog | Gender Equality

Report: Working Women in the U.S. Have Less than 40 Minutes of Personal Time a Day

A new report released by the AFL-CIO reveals that more than half of working women spend less than four hours a week on themselves after fulfilling their work and caregiving responsibilities. The report is based on the results of a survey on women, which received nearly 25,000 responses from union and nonunion women across the country.

"This survey offers a telling glimpse into the issues that matter most to America’s working women," said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. "As a woman and a union member myself, I understand the constant balancing act that many women are forced to play. I also know that union membership opens doors to leadership opportunities and economic power for women."

The AFL-CIO launched the National Survey of Working Women last fall in an effort to gain a multifaceted picture of American women. Shuler released the survey results today alongside local working women, the AFL-CIO Women’s Committee and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).

"As a single parent, being a part of UFCW has made life for my family and I so much more secure," said Kim Mitchell of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400. "I am not a faceless employee. I have a voice—a voice I wouldn’t have if I didn’t belong to a union. As a union member, I am somebody."

The results included critical information about women voters for presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle. Women, who comprise a critical voting bloc, reported being most concerned with the issues of affordable health care, equal pay, affordable higher education and raising the minimum wage.

DeLauro said:

Millions of American women are juggling work and family responsibilities, and it is not getting any easier. From equal pay and an increased minimum wage to affordable health care and paid leave, nearly 25,000 working women have made their voices known in this survey and spoken on the issues that can help families succeed. Now, it is up to Congress to listen and to enact legislation that makes the workplace a better place for all women. We can start by passing the FAMILY Act, to guarantee paid family and medical leave for all employees, and the Healthy Families Act, to allow workers have access to job-protected paid sick days. The time to act is now. The American worker deserves nothing less.

The survey revealed that 59% of women fill the role of primary breadwinner in their household and that women view health care costs and low wages as major barriers to their economic stability.

Scott said:

The results of the National Survey of Working Women reflect what I have been hearing from working women all across the nation: They are working harder than ever but still can’t make ends meet, too many are forced to make an impossible choice between caring for their families and providing for them, and pay discrimination makes it impossible to just break even, let alone get ahead. The good news is that joining a union is one of the surest ways that workers can raise their pay and secure benefits like paid leave and fair work schedules. That’s why I introduced the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy Act, to strengthen women’s ability to speak up together and to help them make a better life for themselves and their families.

In addition to being the breadwinner and financial decision maker for their families, the survey found that more than 25% of women spend over 30 hours a week on caregiving activities.

The other members of Congress also weighed in on the report. Matsui said:

Women know how to get things done – whether at home or in the workplace. Yet, as the AFL-CIO’s survey clearly demonstrates, too often women are stretched between the responsibilities of childcare, caring for aging loved ones, and their increasingly expanded role in the American workforce. It is past time we update our outdated policies to reflect the realities that women face today, and elevate the economic issues facing women in America.

Frankel added: "Women are both breadwinners and caregivers in a growing number of households. This report shows how critical closing the gender gap is for America’s working families. It’s time for this country to make women’s equality more than a slogan and enact meaningful paycheck fairness policies."

The comprehensive report can be found here.

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