The Roundup will be brought to you in July and August by the new Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN), an international membership organization for interdisciplinary work and family academics. The WFRN welcomes the participation of policy makers and practitioners as it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of work and family issues among the community of global stakeholders. The Roundup is a compilation of the latest news articles, reports and other materials related to workplace flexibility delivered to your inbox on Monday and Thursday. In the fall, the WFRN will launch its new website which will include a News Feed among other features. We hope that you will get involved as a member and by posting the latest news. Questions?

April 1, 2011


The Employment Situation -- March 2011

• Bureau of Labor Statistics • April 1, 2011

“Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216, 000 in March, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.8 percent […] the unemployment rates for adult men (8.6 percent), adult women (7.7 percent), teenagers (24.5 percent), whites (7.9 percent), blacks (15.5 percent), and Hispanics (11.3 percent) showed little change in March. […] The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours in March.  […] average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls were unchanged at $22.87.” 

Many Low-Wage Jobs Seen as Failing to Meet Basic Needs

Motoko Rich • New York Times • March 31, 2011

“But many of the jobs being added in retail, hospitality and home health care, to name a few categories, are unlikely to pay enough for workers to cover the cost of fundamentals like housing, utilities, food, health care, transportation and, in the case of working parents, child care.  A separate report being released Friday tries to go beyond traditional measurements like the poverty line and minimum wage to show what people need to earn to achieve a basic standard of living.  The study, commissioned by Wider Opportunities for Women […] aims to set thresholds for economic stability rather than mere survival, and takes into account saving for retirement and emergencies.”

Assembly panel hears both sides of paid sick day ordinance

Georgia Pabst • Journal Sentinel • March 30, 2011

“Both sides of Milwaukee’s paid sick day ordinance lined up Wednesday before an Assembly committee in Madison that held a public hearing on whether to pass a bill that would void the law upheld last week by the Court of Appeals.  The state Senate already has passed a similar bill. The Assembly is expected to take up the measure later. […] Milwaukee’s paid sick day law was passed under a referendum in which it received 69% of the vote, but it’s faced court challenges that halted its enactment.”

Study: Job discrimination hits low-income women hardest

Karen Sloan • National Law Journal • March 29, 2011

“‘Caregiver discrimination lawsuits brought by low-wage workers document clearly that work-family conflict is not just a professional women’s problem,’ Bornstein said. ‘In fact, it’s most acute and extreme for low-income families. To help move families out of poverty, we can’t just focus on fixing the worker. We also need to look at how caregiver discrimination in low-wage jobs undercuts economic stability.’ The report concludes that women transitioning out of the welfare system into the workforce often are caught in a cycle of entry-level employment because they lose jobs as a result of family responsibilities.”

What Could a Federal Paid Leave Insurance Program Look Like? [PDF]

Lauren Damme • New America Foundation •

“The California Paid Family Leave program shows that not only is it possible to support working families, but that it is possible to do so with virtually no negative short-term economic impacts on individual businesses.  A federal paid parental leave insurance program would guarantee that all contribute to and benefit from what is truly a public good:  ensuring the growth of our nation by supporting healthy families and the next generation of Americans.”


Supporting Working Families

• New America Foundation • April 7, 2011

“On April 7th, please join the New America Foundation for a lunch time event that will explore an innovative proposal for the creation of a paid family leave insurance program. Our discussion of the economic and social impacts of statutory paid family leave will feature Betsey Stevenson, Chief Economist for Secretary Hilda Solis at the Department of Labor; experts Ann O’Leary of the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security at the Berkeley Law School; Katie Corrigan of Georgetown University Law Center; and Lauren Damme, Policy Analyst for the Next Social Contract Initiative at the New America Foundation. Michael Lind, Policy Director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation will moderate.”


What You Missed: Open Questions on Women in America [Video]

Matty Greene • White House Blog • March 31, 2011

“White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Preeta Bansal, General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and Shine Editor Lylah Alphonse hosted a live discussion about women in the workplace, education and work-life balance.”

Measuring Jobless Families

Casey B. Mulligan • New York Times - Economix • March 30, 2011

“In a study that Yona Rubinstein of the London School of Economics and I conducted in 2004, we calculated such measures for the years 1965 to 2000. […] On average, all but 5 percent of people lived in a family with at least one person working (this includes one-person families). By comparison, almost 20 percent of prime-age adults were not employed.  In other words, it is much more common for a person to be without a job than for a family to be without a job.”

Valerie Jarrett: Women in America Report Could Change Policies

Rahim Kanani • Huffington Post • March 30, 2011

“Rahim Kanani: And what do those findings tell you?  Valerie Jarrett: We have to think creatively about changes that need to be made in the workplace to accommodate the growing demands on the work force. And another important study that I think we spoke about last time you were here was the report that the Council on Economic Advisors released last year that found that workplaces that are flexible are more productive and therefore we’re not just doing it because it’s the right thing to do, we’re doing it because the new global marketplace really demands greater productivity and one way to accomplish that is through workplace flexibility.”

Americans are stressed about work, study finds

Stuart Pfeifer • Los Angeles Times - Money & Company • March 30, 2011

“More than three-fourths of U.S. workers are stressed out about their jobs, according to a study by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College.  Low pay (14%) was the most common source of stress, followed by commuting (11%), excessive workload (9%) and the fear of being fired or laid off (9%), according to the survey of nearly 1,000 adults released today.  Other sources of workplace stress were annoying coworkers, difficult bosses, poor work-life balance and the lack of opportunity for advancement, the study found.”

Jimmy John’s franchise fires union workers after sick-day campaign

Lisa Baertlein • Reuters - Shop Talk • March 30, 2011

“The owners of 10 Minnesota Jimmy John’s sandwich shops — where a rare unionization vote was narrowly rejected last year – have fired six union organizers.  The terminated workers are members of the Industrial Workers of the World, a formerly high-profile union better known as the Wobblies, and said they were fired after they put up 3,000 posters (shown here) around Minneapolis as part of a campaign to win paid sick days.”

Global News

Our firms are flexible but not female-friendly

Stephen Lunn • Australian • April 1, 2011

“A survey by consultants Mercer, to be released today, finds organisations in Australia and New Zealand ‘lead the world’ on flexibility, with 84 per cent offering work arrangements tailored to meet the needs of women, compared with 55 per cent in Asia and 69 per cent in the US. However, only 26 per cent of Australian and New Zealand organisations have a plan to ensure their best women make it to senior positions, the survey shows.  Although most programs offer some degree of workplace flexibility, they do not strive to help women attain senior roles; other studies show such targeting improves overall performance.”

More mothers working full-time

Louisa Peacock • Telegraph • March 31, 2011

“Some 29pc of mothers worked 35 hours a week or more at the end of last year, up from 23pc in 1996, the Office for National Statistics said.  However, a higher number of mothers worked part-time rather than full-time, with 37pc doing so at the end of last year, compared to 38pc in 1996.  Overall, 66pc of mothers are in some form of work, either part or full-time.  The gap between employment rates for mothers and for women with no dependent children has narrowed significantly, the statistics found. “