The Religious Center Blog
I'm a contributing blogger for Huffington Post now and have a submission on the workplace and fatherhood
On July 15, President Obama announced a major new federal investment in job training and community colleges. He appropriately made the announcement in Michigan, a state with 14% unemployment, the highest in the nation, and a major political battleground state.
Obama's plan consists of a $12 billion investment in community colleges. Part of the funds will help build and renovate buildings, part will expand on line courses and part will provide challenge grants for programs to expand "student success."
This plan may or may not be the best one to help retrain workers. However, it is a credible plan. Wages for better-educated workers grow much faster than their lesser-educated counterparts. The Educational Testing Service reported earlier this year that in 1979 the average college graduate could expect to earn 56% more than his or her counterparts without a college education. Today, college graduates expect to earn 96% more. President Bush significantly increased spending on community colleges, though not as much as Obama has proposed.
Five years ago this month, California became the first state in the
nation to provide wage replacement to workers who take time for family
and caregiving responsibilities. This important anniversary deserves
attention and we hope that light can be shined on the importance of
creative public policy to help workers balance their lives.
Work life balance is a significant issue for most Americans. Polls show
that more than 80% of Americans experience conflicts between their work
and family lives. The impact on families is significant. Today's
parents multitask to the point that children sight "uninterrupted time
with parents" as their primary need. Older workers want and, in this
economy, need to keep working but want to do so in a different way than
in the past. Women have traditionally faced work/life balance
challenges, as with men losing three-quarters of the jobs in this
recession, women are now driving the economy. America can't afford to
lose any more workers (women or men) due to caregiving conflicts.
However, far from being just a "woman's issue," more men (59%) than
women (45%) in dual-income households report serious conflicts.
In 2004, California sought to meet these needs by using its disability
insurance program to help fund wage replacement for workers who take
time off to have a baby or care for a relative. Five years later, there
are still many questions about the effectiveness of the California
On July 1, California celebrates the fifth anniversary of its landmark paid leave legislation. Five years ago this week, California became the first state in the nation to provide wage replacement to workers who take time for family and caregiving responsibilities. Whatever one thinks of paid leave, as Washington considers its own versions, this important anniversary deserves attention and I hope that light can be shined on the importance of creative public policy to help workers balance their lives. Five years later, there are still many questions to be answered about the overall effectiveness of the paid leave program. However, it is undeniable that work family conflicts are real and growing. There is a mismatch between the needs of families and the structure of work. Workplace flexibility is needed and creative public policy is part of the solution to benefit workers, their families and employers.
Flexibility for Fathers
On Father’s Day, dads across the nation will be struggling to succeed both at work and as husbands and parents. It used to be that work life balance issues were considered primarily challenges for women. Not any more. In 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, Ellen Galinsky, Kerstin Aumann and James T. Bond revealed that almost 59% of fathers in dual earner couples report experiencing “some or a lot of conflict today,” compared to only 45% of women in dual earner couples. Far from being just a women’s issue, work life balance is a fathers issue as well.
While the needs of families has changed, but the structure of work has not. What fathers need now is workplace flexibility, flexibility in the way the work so that they can be successful in meeting both their work and family obligations.
As Father's Day approaches, we should be aware of one of the startling conclusions of a recent survey. In their 2008 National study of the Changing Workforce, Ellen Galinsky, Kerstin Aumann and James T. Bond found that men now feel more work life conflict than women do. Men’s self-reported work-life conflict has risen from 34% in 1977 to 45% in 2008, compared to now only 39% of women. The majority of fathers in dual earner couples, report experiencing “some or a lot of conflict today, up from 35% in 1977.” That compares now to only 45% of women in dual earner couples. Far from being just a women’s issue, work life balance is a father's issue as well. Over a generation when the percentage of women in the workplace has increased substantially so that dual earner families are now the norm, the needs of families has changed but the structure of work has not. Fathers need workplace flexibility this Father's Day.
Last fall, my wife and I welcomed our second child, a son, into the world. It’s great having two boys, but it doesn't set me up well to occupy the modern White House.
With Barack Obama's inauguration, his daughters, Malia and Sasha, now live on Pennsylvania Avenue. On November 24, 2008, Lois Romano wrote in the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/23/AR2008112302555.html) that Desiree Rogers, the new White House social secretary, is "committed to making the White House a fun place for the Obama daughters."
I'm wondering why it seems like Presidential children in the White House tend to be daughters. Obama has two daughters and no boys. So does George W. Bush. So did Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. President Clinton had a daughter and no sons.