This past November, we heard an awful lot about the “war on women,” but the more pressing battle continues to be over the struggle to lower the national unemployment rate. While the economic malaise has impacted every demographic of our society and every sector of our economy, one of the hardest hit has been women in the workforce.
The labor force participation rate among women is in the midst of a 20-year low. Since January 2009, there are 451,000 more unemployed women in America, which means that the number of unemployed women has increased from five million to 5.45 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of women who reported they are not looking for work has increased by 3.9 million.
Yet in spite of these statistics, great strides are being made. There are 7.8 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Women are increasingly seen inside the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, and there is already an elite group of women serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. I would like to see that number increase.
Over the last hundred years, we have seen a flurry of chapters written about the rise of women in our country. The passage of the 19th amendment in 1920, giving women the right to vote, began opening the door for unlimited opportunities. Take the last two presidential elections, for example, in which several women candidates became major contenders for the presidency. Their success represents a transformational moment in presidential politics that I have no doubt will continue to be replicated.
In fact, it was Abigail Adams, who in a 1776 letter to her husband, John Adams, urged lawmakers of the Continental Congress to “Remember the ladies… Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.”
As the 112th Congress concludes its business and we prepare to convene the 113th Congress in January, Adams’ advice to her husband continues to bear fruit. Congress must stop the looming tax increase that will destroy an additional 700,000 jobs, and continue forward with plans for comprehensive tax reform to lower tax rates for everyone. We need to reduce the unnecessary red tape that is keeping small businesses from creating jobs, and we need to institute an all-of-the-above energy strategy—an energy roadmap—that will lower gas and heating prices and bring us closer to energy security and independence.
These are the issues that have been front and center over the last two years. We have taken action by passing legislation to empower small business owners, increase competitiveness for U.S. manufacturers and maximize domestic energy production, and we will continue to do so when we reconvene in January.
The focus right now must be on solving pocketbook issues and keeping more of your hard-earned money in your hands instead of the government’s. If we do this, we will not only better the economic picture for women in our country, we will have created an environment that will spur private-sector job creation to lift up all Americans. iBi