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DeLauro, Lawmakers Announce Agency Will Continue to Compile Data on Women Workers

Location: Washington, DC

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

DeLauro, Lawmakers Announce Agency Will Continue to Compile Data on Women Workers

- Change to Program Fought in Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill -

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will continue to collect important data on women workers, four lawmakers announced today. The BLS Women Worker Series, a program that has existed for 40 years, provides monthly data covering over 300,000 businesses and detailed industry data on employment, hours, and worker earnings. BLS stopped collecting the data after July 2005.

U.S. Senators Tom Harkin and Edward M.Kennedy and U.S. Representatives Rosa L. DeLauro and Chris Van Hollen fought in Congress to preserve a Kennedy amendment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill that would ensure that BLS continues this vital program. The bill emerged from a House-Senate conference and will now be voted on in both chambers. The payroll survey is considered the most reliable source for tracking changes in month-to-month employment, and data that specifically track how women workers are faring compared to men is essential to understanding the status of women in the workforce.

Nearly half the workforce is now made up of women. Women are today more likely to have an advanced degree than men. And more than 6 million businesses in America are owned by women. Yet, women still experience economic discrimination. Women today earn 76 cents for every dollar earned by men. They work disproportionately in lower-paying occupations, and have far lower lifetime earnings than men.

"The data compiled in the Women Worker Series is critical to understanding gender inequality in the workforce. It is also indispensable to policymakers in our efforts to eliminate those inequalities," said Harkin. "If we are going to put an end to long-standing economic discrimination against women, we need to have comprehensive and accurate gender employment information."

"The Bush Administration's attempt to eliminate this crucial data would have crippled our efforts to understand and eliminate workplace discrimination," said Kennedy. "Women are critical to our nation's economic success. We should be expanding—not limiting—our ability to understand the evolving role of women in the nation's labor force."

"This is a victory for women workers," said DeLauro. "It proves government thinks that it is important to understand if women are succeeding in the American workplace or failing. And that our government thinks it is important to know if women are gaining jobs in response to economic restructuring, to changes in the business cycle, and variations in the labor supply - or losing them."

"I am very gratified that Congress has now reversed the Bureau of Labor Statistics' misguided decision to eliminate the women workers series in the payroll survey," said Van Hollen. "For forty years, this data has provided important insight into the employment status of women across industries and economic cycles. This reinstatement is a win for women in the workplace, and it is a win for informed public policymaking, which depends on reliable information to guide it."

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