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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

$19 a Month to Keep Up with the Cost of Living Doesn’t Sound Too High to Us

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: October 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

The Social Security Administration just made its annual announcement of what the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security would be in 2013. Drumroll, please: benefits will increase by 1.7 percent starting in January. For the typical single elderly woman whose monthly benefit is only $1,100, that amounts to $19 per month to meet the rising costs of food, gas – and health care.

No one who tries to make ends meet just on Social Security benefits – as millions of women do – would think that was too much.

The COLA is an important part of Social Security. It helps prevent the value of Social Security benefits from being eroded by inflation over time. But even the current COLA underestimates inflation for the elderly and people with disabilities because it doesn’t take account of their greater health care spending.


No, Senator Simpson, We Won't Quit Talking about the Poor and Vulnerable

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: October 05, 2012 at 04:00 pm

Senator Alan Simpson wants us to shut up. The Huffington Post reported Simpson's comments at a recent event sponsored by "Face the Facts USA":

"Could you please cut out the babble? Would you quit talking about the poor, the vulnerable, the veterans, the old ladies going over cliffs, the hospices, the bedpans? I mean, what the hell? We all know, all of us know, that that's the people you want to take care of."

You can't blame us for taking it personally. We've had a lot to say recently about women who are still poor, without health insurance, and paid less than men. We've had to point out that cutting programs that serve low-income people especially hurts women and their families, and that the House-passed budget plan slashes these programs in the name of deficit reduction while giving trillions of dollars in new tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. And we've had to explain the impact of a stealth Social Security benefit cut proposed by the Simpson-Bowles report – reducing the cost-of-living adjustment by changing to a new consumer price index, the "chained CPI."


For Single Elderly Women, Poverty Increased

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: September 13, 2012 at 09:45 am

NWLC’s analysis of yesterday’s Census data shows poverty rates generally stabilized after three years of increases. But one notable exception is the significant increase in the poverty rate for women 65 and older living alone, which rose to 18.4 percent in 2011 from 17.0 percent in 2010.

We can’t yet explain why poverty increased for this already vulnerable group of women; the poverty rate for all women 65 and older was unchanged from 2010 at 10.7 percent. But we do know that single elderly women are especially reliant on income from Social Security. So we’re worried that policy makers continue to look to the Simpson-Bowles report as a model for deficit reduction, including its proposal to reduce Social Security’s annual cost-of-living adjustment by changing the measure of inflation to the “chained consumer price index,” because this proposal would especially hurt women.

Some politicians seem particularly intrigued by this idea, since it sounds like a technical change that might not be recognized as a benefit cut, and it starts out small. But the cut from the chained-CPI gets deeper every year. That’s particularly harmful to women because they live longer than men.


It's an American Classic - Our Social Security System

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: August 14, 2012 at 04:26 pm

What's an American classic? Something that stays fresh and wonderful generation after generation. Something that says, "This is America." Like ice cream cones. The Statue of Liberty. Sunday drives. The March on Washington and "I have a dream." I Love Lucy. And our Social Security system.

Social Security - It's an American Classic!

On this date in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. On its 77th birthday, we hail Social Security as an American classic! Why?

  • Social Security has brought Americans together across generations. Working together, we've built a system that provides income and security for workers and their families when they need it — when income is lost due to retirement, disability, or death.

Public Sector Job Cuts Aren’t Just Hurting Women’s Employment

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: August 09, 2012 at 12:44 pm

If you read our blog or our report on how women are doing three years into the recovery, you know that public sector job losses are really slowing the recovery for women. For every 10 private sector jobs women have gained in the recovery, they’ve lost more than four public sector jobs.

But the impact of the unprecedented public sector job cuts we’ve seen recently is far broader. A new report from Brookings highlights these key facts:

  • Teachers (overwhelmingly women) experienced the largest number of public sector job losses. But the biggest percentage declines were in public safety jobs: emergency responders (-43.5%), air-traffic controllers (-28.5%), and fire fighters (-18.9%).
  • The percentage of workers employed in the public sector (federal, state and local) as a share of the population is at its lowest level in over 30 years.
  • If public sector employment had remained steady since the start of the recession, the economy would have an additional 1.7 million jobs and the unemployment rate would be 7.1 percent instead of 8.2 percent.

And public sector job cuts aren’t just hurting workers, their families, and the economy today. The Brookings report also looks at the long-term impact on the economy of the cuts in just one area – education. Fewer teachers mean more students per class: and recent research, cited in the report, finds that larger class sizes mean lower wages for today’s children when they join the workforce.