The study, which analyzes data collected from 1997 to 2009 by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY 97), notes that demographic changes in the U.S. workforce since the mid-1980s include a 13 percent increase (to 72.3 percent) in the percentage of children with both parents (in married-couple families) or their only parent working. "Despite public conversation and energy around the value of strong families and secure childhoods, the United States has fallen notably behind other industrialized countries in adopting public policies that support workers who need time off to address family needs," the researchers write.
They also observe that except for a handful of states, public policy in the U.S. has been limited to unpaid leave. Since 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has required that eligible employees who work for employers with a minimum of 50 workers be provided up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave annually "for their own health or the health of a family member." The absence of federal-level policy pertaining to paid family leave often forces workers to "cobble together" such employer-provided leave as sick days, holidays, vacation time, disability insurance and/or paid or unpaid leave to deal with personal or family health problems. Many low-income workers have no vacation, sick or other leave.
Five states California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have created disability programs that allow women to recover some lost wages during and immediately after pregnancy. California and New Jersey, through very smal
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