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Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security

Joan Entmacher

Joan Entmacher is Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women's Law Center, where she leads a team working to improve policies important to the economic security of low-income women and their families, including tax and budget, child care, child support, unemployment insurance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Social Security. Ms. Entmacher is a leading expert on issues affecting low-income women. She has been invited to testify before Congress on several occasions, written numerous analyses and reports on income support policies and their impact on poor women, and spoken frequently at conferences, briefings, and to the media. Prior to joining the National Women's Law Center, Ms. Entmacher served as Director of Legal and Public Policy at the National Partnership for Women & Families, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College, Chief of the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, and attorney in the U.S. Department of Labor Solicitor's Office. Ms. Entmacher is a graduate of Yale Law School and Wellesley College.

My Take

Gender Wage Gap for Union Members Is Half the Size of Non-Union Workers' Wage Gap

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data on union membership for 2013. The data show women’s union membership held steady in 2013 after dropping sharply the year before – and that’s a relief for women seeking better wages and equal pay.

NWLC analysis reveals that the wage gap among union members is half the size of the wage gap among non-union workers and female union members earn over $200 per week more than women who are not represented by unions—an increase that represents a larger union premium than men receive.

This release is especially timely. Earlier this week the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that challenges the right of low-wage workers, overwhelmingly women, who provide home care services under Illinois’ Medicaid program—and potentially the right of all public employees—to be represented by unions. Today’s data make it clear that this case has high stakes for working women and men.

Here are all the details:

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Poverty Among Seniors Is Far Worse than First Appears

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: November 06, 2013 at 05:13 pm

A disturbing finding from today’s Census Bureau report on poverty using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM):  the rates of poverty and extreme poverty among seniors are dramatically higher than under the official poverty measure. Specifically:

  • The poverty rate for people 65 and older under the SPM was over 60 percent higher under the SPM than under the official measure: 14.8 percent of seniors were considered poor under the SPM in 2012, compared to 9.1 percent under the official measure.
  • The extreme poverty rate (income less than 50 percent of the poverty threshold) for people 65 and older was nearly 75 percent higher under the SPM than under the official poverty measure (4.7 percent under the SPM v. 2.7 percent for the official measure).

In contrast, the rates of poverty and extreme poverty among children under 18 were lower under the SPM than under the official poverty measure:

  •  The poverty rate for children under 18 was 18 percent under the supplemental measure, compared to 22.3 percent under the official measure.
  • The extreme poverty rate for children dropped by more than half, to 4.7 percent under the SPM compared to 10.3 percent under the official measure.

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Who Thinks a 1.5 Percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment Is Too Much?

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: October 30, 2013 at 02:16 pm

The Social Security Administration today announced the cost-of-living adjustment for 2014: beginning in January 2014, benefits will increase by 1.5 percent.  For the typical single elderly woman with a benefit of $1,100 per month, this represents an increase of just $16.50 per month. This year’s COLA adjustment is even lower than last year’s 1.7 percent increase.

And yet, as budget negotiations resume today, some lawmakers still are considering proposals to reduce the deficit by cutting Social Security benefits. Specifically, they would adopt a different—and lower—measure of inflation that would reduce annual COLAs: the chained Consumer Price Index (chained CPI). As we’ve explained before, the chained CPI is especially dangerous for women, because the benefit cut from a reduced COLA gets deeper every year you live, women tend to live longer than men, and their benefits are lower to start with. Read more...

Extreme Poverty Increased for Older Americans

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: September 23, 2013 at 01:35 pm

Many of the stories about the Census data released last week reported that poverty rates flatlined last year – and it’s true that there were few statistically significant changes. Indeed, the Census didn’t report statistically significant improvements in poverty rates for any demographic groups nationally. But there was one group that that saw statistically significant increases in extreme poverty: Americans 65 and older.

What’s extreme poverty? An income below 50 percent of the federal poverty threshold. That’s just $5,505 for a single person 65 and older.

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Stop Tax Haven Abuse—Another Way to Fight Poverty and Inequality

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: September 19, 2013 at 04:34 pm

It’s been a roller coaster week, and it’s not over yet. Disappointing news from the Census Bureau that we didn’t make progress reducing poverty or the wage gap last year. Exciting news from the Department of Labor about a new rule that brings home care workers one giant step closer to fair pay. The threat that the House will vote later today to slash vital SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits for millions of Americans and vote tomorrow to extend the sequester for several more months. The sequester vote will include yet another effort to defund the Affordable Care Act.

But even in Congress, there are some encouraging developments. Yesterday, several Members of Congress turned out for a special game of Chutes and Ladders (with hula hoops!) to show their support for investing in early learning. And today, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and cosponsors Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act to close offshore tax loopholes.

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