This Mother’s Day, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) is reminding New Yorkers there are a variety of resources available to help working mothers. NYSDOL found in the 2023 Gender Wage Gap Report that mothers face significant challenges in the workplace that contribute to the wage gap. The report also found the pivot to remote learning and pandemic-driven closures of childcare facilities elevated the severe impact of childcare access, which has long been a major problem for working women.
“We know that the pandemic hit mothers especially hard, and that many have still not fully recovered from the challenges they faced over the past three years,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I thank Governor Hochul for supporting working mothers by making outstanding strides in affordable childcare in this year’s budget, and I encourage all mothers to use the resources NYSDOL has available to them.”
With mothers bearing the brunt of care responsibilities, labor force participation for women in New York dropped from 59.3 percent to 58.9 percent from 2019 to 2021, while the unemployment rate nearly doubled from 4.2 percent to 8.2 percent. In 2021, over 405,000 women were unemployed, a significant increase from 207,000 in 2019. The report notes that even a temporary exit from the workforce can have significant long-term financial implications. Women also face salary challenges when they become mothers. It was found in the 2018 Gender Wage Gap Report that working moms were paid just 58 cents for every dollar paid to working dads.
To ease the burden of childcare on parents, especially mothers who often bear the brunt of care duties, Governor Hochul is increasing the State's investment to an unprecedented $7.6 billion over four years to make the child care system more accessible and affordable as part of the FY 2024 New York State Budget. The Budget expands the Empire State Child Tax Credit to children under the age of four; grows the Workforce Retention Grant Program with a $500 million investment to support an estimated 250,000 caregivers; creates New York's new Employer Sponsored Care Pilot Program to help workers find affordable childcare through their employers; and raises caps and eligibility limits on childcare costs to help more New York families access childcare assistance.
The Budget also raises the minimum wage to $17 by 2026 in New York City, Westchester, and Long Island, and to $16 by 2026 in all other parts of the state. After 2026, minimum wage would increase at a rate determined by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the Northeast Region — the best regional measure of inflation. Raising New York's minimum wage to keep pace with inflation will benefit hundreds of thousands of minimum wage workers across the state, many of whom are mothers.
NYSDOL also has a variety of programs available that can help working mothers re-enter the workforce or elevate their careers. NYSDOL’s Career Centers provide counseling to help workers find a fulfilling and family sustaining career. NYSDOL’s Salary Negotiation Guide is also available and can help workers and job seekers advocate for themselves in the workplace.
For those looking to change or advance their careers, apprenticeships are an opportunity to earn while they learn. NYSDOL has also partnered with Coursera to allow those who are unemployed to take courses for free.
New York State law protects workers’ rights to paid sick leave -- which can be used for parents to care for sick children – and nursing mothers’ rights to accommodations in the workplace.
For more information and NYSDOL’s recommended solutions to achieve pay equity, visit NYSDOL’s Gender Wage Gap Hub.