New State-By-State Analysis: Lack of Paid Leave in Most States Means Workers Struggle with Caregiving and Illness
Ahead of FMLA’s 30th anniversary, researchers find a lack of paid leave makes economic challenges worse across the U.S.
February 2, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the National Partnership for Women & Families released a new state-by-state analysis showing how states with and without paid leave policies are faring in 2023.
The analysis, “Paid Leave Means a Stronger Nation,” finds that people in most states across the country do not have access to paid family leave. The release of this new data comes just days before the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was a groundbreaking civil rights policy when it was passed, ensuring workers could keep their jobs while taking unpaid time off to serve as caregivers. FMLA has been used more than 460 million times since it was signed into law, but it’s still inaccessible to most workers due to limited eligibility and lack of pay.
The National Partnership’s new resource shows that without a national paid leave policy – and as people across the country face economic challenges, like the rising cost of living, health and caregiving needs – states across the U.S. are taking it upon themselves to find solutions.
Some examples of the impact of investments in paid leave and other caregiving policies include:
• adding an estimated 111,000 women to the workforce in Alabama, 155,000 in Michigan and more than 600,000 in Texas;
• preventing workers from losing income: lost income from just four weeks of unpaid leave adds up to nearly $2,700 for a typical worker in Mississippi, nearly $3,100 in Ohio and nearly $3,600 in Virginia; and,
• helping family caregivers and people with disabilities manage their health and care needs while maintaining their incomes and employment. This would help an estimated 352,000 North Carolinians, 416,000 Georgians and 517,000 Pennsylvanians who report having long-term COVID-19 symptoms that affect their daily activities.
“Ignoring the care needs of workers and their families – and assuming that caregivers can shoulder their responsibilities on their own without support– is unsustainable for most families in this country today,” said Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Our nation’s leaders need to step up and make the choice to enact policies that enable workers to do their jobs and care for their families. The solution is right in front of us, and after 30 years, we are ready for it. We all have the power to make a national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy a reality.”
Nationwide, 77 percent of workers, or 116 million people in the U.S., lack access to paid family leave through their jobs.
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care, and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.